DALLAS (AP) -- American Airlines is making money again and beating expectations after its merger with US Airways.

The company posted earnings of $480 million Thursday, a record for the first quarter, which is usually the weakest three-month period for airlines during the year. As separate airlines, American and US Airways lost $297 million a year earlier.

The profit was helped by the sale of takeoff and landing slots at Washington's Reagan National Airport. American and US Airways agreed to sell the slots to settle a government antitrust lawsuit that threatened to block the merger.

Excluding that sale and other items, the combined airline would have earned $402 million, or $0.54 per share, topping analyst projections for $0.48 per share.

Revenue rose 5.6% to $10 billion. Analysts expected $10.02 billion, according to a FactSet survey.

American Airlines Group, formed by the December merger, is the largest airline in the world. CEO Doug Parker, who previously ran US Airways, said in a message to employees that, "In the entire history of American Airlines, we have never earned $400 million in the first three months of a year, but in the first three months since the merger, we did."

The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.