April 24, 2014 / 3:11 PM / 4 years ago

UPDATE 1-American Airlines 1st qtr profit beats estimates, costs edge lower

(Recasts throughout, compares results with combined AMR Corp and US Airways a year earlier)

April 24 (Reuters) - American Airlines Group, the world’s largest carrier, on Thursday posted a higher-than-expected quarterly profit as operating expenses fell slightly.

Net profit was $480 million, or 65 cents a diluted share, for the first quarter. That compares with a loss of $297 million in the year-earlier period for the combined AMR Corp and US Airways Group, which came together in a merger in late 2013.

Excluding items that included a gain tied to the sale of takeoff and landing rights at Reagan National Airport in Washington, which American was required to sell by U.S. regulators, net profit for the combined company was $402 million, or 54 cents a share. That compared with $62 million in the first quarter last year.

Analysts had expected a profit of 48 cents a share on average, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Quarterly revenue was nearly $10 billion. Combined operating expenses in the quarter were $9.3 billion, down 0.3 percent.

American Airlines Group will be spending the next year or so melding technology systems and implementing new processes, tasks that have challenged previous airline mergers and hurt customer service.

Shares of American Airlines were up 0.8 percent to $37.40 on Thursday. (Reporting by Karen Jacobs in Atlanta; Editing by Tom Brown)

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