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Story by the Chicago Tribune

American Airlines said Friday that its second-quarter profit nearly doubled to $1.7 billion on sharply cheaper jet fuel.

The world’s biggest airline said it was its most profitable quarter ever, after excluding one-time costs and gains.

American’s fuel bill dropped by more than $1 billion — a 37 percent savings — compared with the same quarter last year. That helped cover up a 5 percent decline in revenue.

Net income was $2.41 per share. Adjusted profit, which excludes one-time costs, was $2.62 per share, topping the $2.58-per-share forecast from nine analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research.

Revenue dipped to $10.83 billion. Seven analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $10.93 billion.

American doesn’t disclose the average fare, but two measures that track how much passengers pay per mile both declined in the second quarter, offering further evidence that airline prices are declining after five straight years of rising faster than inflation.

For example, American said passengers paid 6.1 percent less per mile than they did in the second quarter of 2014.

There were a few more empty seats, especially on flights over the Atlantic, as American added seats faster than it increased passenger traffic. That could add to investor concern that cheaper fuel is tempting airlines to grow too fast, leading to lower prices.

American announced that it will pay a dividend of 10 cents per share next month. The Fort Worth-based company owns US Airways and is folding that carrier into American on Oct. 17.
Shares of American Airlines Group Inc. rose $1.24, or 2.9 percent, in trading before Friday’s opening bell. At Thursday’s close, the shares were down 21 percent in 2015 after more than doubling in 2014.