As American Airlines and US Airways begin to collaborate on their pending merger, American Airlines in the first quarter posted its first quarterly profit, $8 million, in six years.

The black ink, of course, which amounted to a $256 million improvement over the first quarter of 2012, would disappear if you include $349 million in reorganization costs and one-time charges.

Looking at it all from a GAAP perspective, American recorded a net loss of $341 million in the first quarter of 2013 compared with a net loss of $1.7 billion a year earlier. Revenue in the first quarter of 2013 was $6.1 billion, a 1% year-over-year jump.

American CEO Tom Horton sees the first-quarter results as the beginning of a new era.

“For the first time in six years, we produced a first quarter profit, excluding reorganization items and special charges, and our fourth consecutive quarterly operating profit,” Horton said. “And the momentum is building. We have raised revenues and built a competitive cost structure and sound foundation for the future.”

 

“We’re investing in hundreds of new aircraft and industry-leading products and have renewed our iconic American brand. Looking forward, our pending merger with our partners at US Airways positions American to be the world’s leading airline. With great work by everyone on the American team, the new American is taking flight.”

The first quarterly profit comes as American and US Airways last month created an Integration Management Office, and hired McKinsey and Co. as an advisor.

Meanwhile, the bankruptcy court approved the merger, and AMR Corp. filed its Chapter 11 reorganization plan April 15.

During the first quarter, American modestly increased revenue while reducing capacity 13% year over year.

The capacity reduction isn’t expected to continue throughout 2013, however. The airline projects that capacity will be up 1% and 1.5% in the second quarter and full-year 2013, respectively.

At the same time, the airline reduced its operating expenses by $80 million, a 13% reduction compared with the first quarter of 2012.

Pending regulatory approvals, the merger with US Airways is expected to close around August or September.