American Airlines plans $5 billion bond sale, $2.5 billion loan backed by frequent flyer program to pay back other debt
Posted On: Mar 09, 2021
American Airlines said Monday it is planning to issue $5 billion in bonds and seek a $2.5 billion loan backed by its frequent flyer program, funds it intends to use to pay back some of its debt used to help weather the coronavirus pandemic.
Airlines make money from their frequent flyer programs by selling miles to banks, which customers earn by using their credit cards. Last year, American said its AAdvantage program was valued at between $19.5 billion and $31.5 billion.
American’s sale includes $2.5 billion in five-year bonds and another $2.5 billion in eight-year bonds. The proceeds will be used to pay back federal loans that Congress passed last year to help the struggling airline industry, other debt or other uses, the company said.
American was granted about $5 billion under that program with the possibility of upsizing it to $7.5 billion, but as of the end of 2020, the airline had only drawn on $550 million of that amount. The loan has an interest rate of about 4%.
Fort Worth, Texas-based American had total debt of $41 billion at the end of 2020 up nearly 23% from the year earlier, before the pandemic hit.