The company said its first-quarter net loss was $375 million, or $1.35 per share, compared with $341 million, or $1.37 per share, a year ago.
Excluding items, the company lost $1.30 a share, easily beating analyst forecasts for a $1.62-per-share loss, according to Reuters Estimates.
The results include the impact of a $13 million charge, or 5 cents per share, reflecting the value of future lease payments related to aircraft retirements in the quarter.
The airline industry has been battered this year by falling demand as the economic recession takes its toll on travel budgets. The industry downsized last year and in 2009 continues to shrink capacity to offset weakness.
AMR cut its mainline capacity 8 percent compared with the year-ago period in 2008. The company said its mainline costs per available seat mile, excluding fuel, increased 6.8 percent in the quarter.
AMR ended the first quarter with $3.3 billion in cash and short-term investments. AMR shares were up about 18 percent at $4.99 on the New York Stock Exchange.
(Reporting by Kyle Peterson, editing by Maureen Bavdek)