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NEW YORK: Major US carriers stumbled through another money-losing quarter at the end of the 2021 but remain confident of a travel recovery later in 2022, based in part on hopes that Covid-19 will soon evolve into an ordinary and seasonal virus.

Earnings releases from American Airlines, United Airlines and Delta Air Lines painted a similar picture of a fourth quarter that began buoyantly amid increasing Covid-19 vaccination levels in the US population, but concluded with a thud as the Omicron wave spread quickly.

The Omicron surge has not only weighed on bookings in early 2022 — already a seasonally weak period — but also played a role in the cancelation of nearly 32,000 flights in the United States between Christmas Eve and January 11 as airline employees infected with the virus were unable to work.

While acknowledging that the Covid-19 situation remains fluid, airline executives spoke bullishly about the travel market after February, eyeing a good spring travel season followed by a potentially busy summer.

American Airlines has seen an uptick in reservations beyond the next 60 days, Chief Executive Doug Parker said Thursday on CNBC after the carrier reported a $931 million loss for the fourth quarter and a $2 billion loss for the year.

American “will continue to match its forward capacity with observed booking trends,” said the carrier, which plans first-quarter capacity to be down eight to 10 percent compared with 2019 levels.

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