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American Airlines parent AMR loses $328 million

AMR Corp., the parent company of American Airlines, reported a $328 million loss for the first quarter, as the carrier battled high fuel prices amid a slow travel period.

The Association of Professional Flight Attendants, the union that represents American's attendants, also called for the resignation of the carrier's top five executives Wednesday afternoon. Union officials had called on the executives to decline or defer a lucrative slate of stock bonuses that vest Wednesday.

The stock bonuses, worth about $38 million, will be shared among about 900 top executives and managers, according to a union estimate. Chief Executive Gerard Arpey is slated to receive about $1.7 million in stock, according to the Allied Pilots Association.

"By taking these bonuses they have broken their promise, destroyed their credibility and lost their ability to effectively lead this airline," said Laura Glading, the president of the flight attendants' union.

She added that "if the five officers do not tender their resignations, APFA plans to expand its campaign to AMR's board of directors to demonstrate to the board that these executives simply lack the kind of judgment required of corporate leaders."

The airline also announced plans to sell American Beacon Advisors, its investment subsidiary, for $480 million to Lighthouse Holdings, owned by investment firms TPG Capital and Pharos Capital Group.

"The first quarter proved yet again that fuel prices remain one of the biggest threats to our industry and our company, and we also can't ignore the ongoing concerns about the U.S. economy and the potential impact on travel demand," Arpey said in a statement.

"While our first quarter financial results were disappointing, through our hard work in recent years to contain costs and strengthen our balance sheet and liquidity we are better positioned to withstand today's uncertainty," he said. "However, we also recognize that we have a lot more hard work ahead of us and that our efforts must be ongoing."

AMR reported a profit of $81 million for the first quarter of 2007. Officials noted that it spent $665 million more in jet fuel than it had for the same period a year ago.

Executives said they plan to make additional reductions to their capacity this year, and are accelerating plans to replace MD-80s with more fuel-efficient Boeing 737 jets. The airline will take 34 new 737s next year and 36 in 2010. Previously, the airline had planned to add 23 Boeing 737 planes next year.

Total passenger capacity will be cut 1.4 percent this year, with a 3.6 percent reduction in domestic capacity while international capacity will increase by 2.5 percent.

Previously, the airline had forecast a slight increase in overall passenger capacity for the year.

The earnings come during a turbulent period for American. Last week, the carrier was forced to cancel more than 3,300 flights when the Federal Aviation Administration grounded its fleet of 300 MD-80s for inspections.

Hundreds of thousands of passengers were impacted by the cancellations.

On Tuesday, hundreds of American pilots demonstrated at airports and the headquarters of major corporate customers, complaining that the airline's service standards have fallen.

Total revenues at the carrier were up about 5 percent, to $5.7 billion. But weather and maintenance-related cancellations during the first quarter cost about $75 million to $80 million.

The airline had $4.5 billion in unrestricted cash on hand at the end of the quarter.

Shares of AMR stock (ticker: AMR) were up 27 cents at $8.84 in mid-morning trading.