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American Airlines slows seating growth again as fares slump

The silhouette of a traveler is seen at the American Airlines Group Inc. terminal of Miami International Airport (MIA) in Miami, Florida.
The silhouette of a traveler is seen at the American Airlines Group Inc. terminal of Miami International Airport (MIA) in Miami, Florida. Bloomberg

American Airlines Group Inc. trimmed domestic growth plans this year for at least the second time after average fares declined.

U.S. capacity will expand 1 percent to 2 percent, down from an original forecast of as much as 3 percent, American said in a statement Friday. The change pares global expansion to 1 percent in 2015, down from an already-lowered April estimate of 2 percent.

Charlotte is American’s second-busiest hub, after Dallas/Fort Worth. The carrier operates more than 90 percent of daily flights at Charlotte Douglas International Airport since it merged with US Airways.

Airlines in the U.S. have come under pressure from analysts and investors to keep capacity tight in order to help buoy prices. Last-minute purchases of business-class tickets in particular have declined recently, carriers have said.

American’s action may be followed by Delta Air Lines Inc. and United Continental Holdings Inc., which said last month they were reviewing their own growth plans.

Shares of American rose 3.7 percent to $41.13 at 9:35 a.m. in New York. They fell 26 percent this year through Thursday.

American reiterated its forecasts that passenger revenue from each seat flown a mile will decline 6 percent to 8 percent in the second quarter, and that pretax margin, excluding special items, will be 16 percent to 18 percent.

At an investor conference last month, Delta President Ed Bastian said the carrier was reviewing domestic growth plans with a “bias” toward a reduction. Chicago-based United said it was looking “very closely” at seating and flight plans for after the summer travel season.

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