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American Air Braces Balance Sheet With $3.5 Billion in Financing

Mary Schlangenstein, Crystal Tse and Gillian Tan

(Bloomberg) -- American Airlines Group Inc. dropped after the carrier said it would raise $3.5 billion in new financing, diverging from its recent reliance on federal aid as the coronavirus pandemic suppresses travel demand.

The carrier is selling $750 million of shares and the same amount of senior convertible notes due in 2025, American said in a statement Sunday, confirming an earlier Bloomberg News report. In addition, the carrier will offer $1.5 billion in senior secured notes and said it would enter into a $500 million term loan facility.

American’s actions show the broad range of tools airlines are using to bolster balance sheets amid a hesitant return to flying that for now is led largely by leisure travelers anxious to escape months of confinement. While carriers have resumed some of the domestic flights slashed when the virus hurt travel demand in late March, a full recovery is expected to take years. The largest U.S. carriers continue to burn through as much as $45 million daily as demand sags.

With the equity offering, Fort Worth, Texas-based American joins Southwest Airlines Co., which raised about $4 billion with an April sale of 70 million shares and $2 billion in convertible notes due in 2025. United Airlines Holdings Inc. raised more than $1 billion in the industry’s first share sale during the coronavirus crisis.

Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, BofA Securities and JPMorgan are jointly running the stock and notes offerings for American. The carrier used a pool of slots, gates and routes in various countries, including the U.S., China, Japan, Australia and South America as collateral for the bonds and term loan. The stock offering is to start trading Tuesday, according to a person familiar with the matter.

American dropped 9.1% to $14.54 before the start of regular trading Monday, leading other carriers lower. American slumped 44% this year through June 19, in line with a Standard & Poor’s index of the five biggest airline stocks.

Bond Terms

The junk bonds were said to carry a yield of 11% in discussions last week ahead of the offering, Bloomberg News reported June 19. Final terms are subject to market conditions and other factors, American said Sunday. Part of the proceeds from the offering and loan will be used to refinance a $1 billion, 364-day financing the airline took out on March 18. The new $500 million loan, which will close with the bond offering, is due in 2024.

American will grant underwriters up to $112.5 million worth of additional shares and the same amount in added convertible notes depending on demand, the carrier said.

Carriers are pulling out all the stops to make sure they’re positioned for a fundamental change in their business. Delta Air Lines Inc. is preparing for a “slow and choppy” recovery that could take as long as three years to return “to a new level of normal,” the carrier said in a June 19 presentation.

Up Next

United may launch a $5 billion debt offering backed by its frequent-flyer program with a group of banks led by Goldman as soon as Monday, Bloomberg News has reported. Delta, Southwest and JetBlue Airways Corp. also have tapped debt investors in recent weeks to boost liquidity.

In conjunction with effort to build cash reserves, carriers also have focused recently on employee leave and voluntary separation offers to cut spending as they prepare for the Oct. 1 expiration of no-furlough restrictions tied to federal payroll aid. The airlines earlier slashed flying, parked hundreds of aircraft, cut executive salaries, and took other steps in a rush to reduce expenses.

Outside of the early $1 billion term loan from banks in March, American has depended largely on $5.8 billion in employee payroll support from the U.S. government because of the pandemic. The carrier is in talks for a separate $4.75 billion federal loan it expects to close this month.

American has said it will have $11 billion in liquidity at the end of June, assuming it secures the second U.S. loan, while Delta has said it will have more than $15 billion; Southwest, $13.9 billion; and United, $9.4 billion.

About 576,500 passengers passed through Transportation Security Administration airport checkpoints Thursday, compared with more than 2.7 million a year earlier.

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