Thanksgiving holiday travel under close scrutiny as investors focus on airlines

Thanksgiving marks one of the busiest travel times of the year for US carriers, but travel schedules on Tuesday will be under close scrutiny as investors look for a sign of improvement from Wall Street’s third-largest airline.

The quarter will mark a turnaround from the previous quarter, which was the worst since 2010 for American Airlines Group Inc , which shares were down 4.9% on Tuesday as other airline stocks have headed up this year.

American Airlines made an acquisition in May and also expects to return cash to shareholders in the first half of 2019.

The airline industry suffered a spate of airline industry problems including avian flu and drone attacks last year. A series of travel system outages also soured passengers.

(Read: The 10 worst US airline customer service breaches of all time)

US airlines face stiff competition from foreign competitors that have been routing passengers abroad to save on airfare.

American Airlines raised fares in the US on 100 or so destinations on Monday but also trimmed some routes, industry publication Airlines for America told Reuters. The airline will raise fares at least once a month from now on to reflect rising costs, it said last week.

While American was expected to report a 2.3% year-over-year revenue passenger mile growth on the first quarter, its competitors Delta Air Lines Inc and United Continental Holdings Inc were expected to show revenue growth of 6.8% and 3.6%, respectively, according to Wolfe Research.

But the US airline market still has a long way to go.

Americans spent $121 on average for an airline ticket in the second quarter of this year, up 19% from a year earlier, according to travel research firm Phocuswright.

Total US domestic capacity rose 3.2% in the first quarter.

US airlines have also continued efforts to reorganize operations such as retiring the single fleet type of Boeing Co 777.

United last week reached a settlement with the US Department of Justice that clears the way for the merger of its US unit with the bigger rival, Texas-based American.

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