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American Air Says Covid Led It to Seek Controversial JetBlue Alliance

  • American CEO said it lost more than $100 million a day in 2020
  • JetBlue deal is ‘not on the same scale’ as a merger, Isom said

American Airlines Group Inc. credited Covid as a key reason it pursued a controversial business partnership with JetBlue Airways Corp., saying it needed the alliance to stay competitive in the heavily trafficked US Northeast.

“Our business was hemorrhaging cash” in the spring of 2020, American’s CEO Robert Isom testified Monday in a federal court in Boston, adding that the airline was losing more than $100 million a day as Covid-19 shut down air travel. Identifying the pandemic downturn as a “mortal threat” to American’s survival, Isom authorized executives to focus “fast and hard” on partnerships with JetBlue and Alaska Air Group Inc., to put his airline “in a stronger position when we came out than when we went in.”