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American Airlines' profit beats on strong demand for air travel

Oct 26 (Reuters) - American Airlines Group Inc reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit on Thursday, benefiting from higher demand for business and leisure travel.

For the current fourth quarter, American said it expects revenue per available seat mile, a closely watched performance metric which compares sales to flight capacity, to rise between 2.5 percent and 4.5 percent.

The No. 1 U.S. airline's pre tax margin, excluding special items, is forecast between 4.5 percent and 6.5 percent for the period.

Earlier in October, smaller rival Delta Air Lines Inc also reported a better-than-expected third-quarter profit, as disruptions caused by hurricanes cost the airline less than some investors had feared.

American said hurricanes caused nearly 8,000 canceled flights and cost about $75 million in pre-tax earnings.

American Airlines said net income fell to $624 million or $1.28 per share in the quarter ended Sept. 30, from $737 million or $1.40 per share, a year earlier.

On an adjusted basis, American earned $1.42 per share.

Operating revenue rose to $10.88 billion from $10.59 billion.

Analysts on average had expected quarterly profit of $1.40 per share and revenue of $10.88 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. (Reporting by Ankit Ajmera in Bengaluru; Editing by Sai Sachin Ravikumar, Bernard Orr)