April 19 (Reuters) - American Airlines parent AMR Corp , which is operating under Chapter 11 protection, posted a first quarter loss as fuel costs rose and it had big expenses tied to its reorganization.
The company, which sought bankruptcy protection last November, had a net loss of $1.7 billion in the first quarter, compared with a loss of $436 million a year earlier. Excluding reorganization and special items, AMR said its loss was $248 million in the latest period.
"While the continuing loss underscores the need for us to move quickly to complete our restructuring, I am encouraged by the improvement," Chief Executive Tom Horton, who was named to the top job as AMR filed for bankruptcy, said in a letter to staff on Thursday.
Quarterly revenue rose 9.1 percent to $6 billion, aided by higher airfares. Passenger revenue per available seat mile, an important measure called unit revenue, gained 10.3 percent on a consolidated basis.
AMR said international results improved, with unit revenue in the Atlantic region up 9.7 percent in the quarter. Latin America had a unit revenue increase of 10.8 percent.
"Our network strategy to focus on the key business markets is paying dividends and notably, we are seeing increasing positive momentum from our Atlantic joint business with British Airways and Iberia," Horton wrote.
The quarter included about $1.4 billion in expenses tied to the reorganization. Fuel costs were about $3.24 a gallon in the first quarter, up nearly 18 percent from the year-earlier period, AMR said.
AMR has said since its bankruptcy filing that it needs to trim at least 14,000 jobs, including 1,200 nonunion positions, as part of its plan to cut costs.
The company has sought permission from the court to void union contracts, including those covering pilots, flight attendants and ground workers. A hearing on that motion is scheduled for next week.
"While we follow this (court) process, of course, the ultimate objective will be to achieve consensually negotiated new contracts, and company and union negotiators will be encouraged to this end," Horton's memo said.