Earlier I posted about how Boeing briefly updated their website with a banner indicating that American was placing an order for 47 Boeing 787 aircraft. This was clearly a mistake, since the link in the banner didn’t work, suggesting that this may have been published prematurely. My guess is that they probably meant to publish it first thing Monday, since typically announcements like this aren’t made on a Friday afternoon.
However, I guess since the banner was out there already, they’ve moved forward with making the announcement.
American has announced that they have ordered up to 75 Boeing 787s, as follows:
- 22 Boeing 787-8s, to be delivered starting in 2020, intended to replace Boeing 767-300s
- 25 Boeing 787-9s, to be delivered starting in 2023, intended to replace Airbus A330s, as well as older Boeing 777-200s (these planes will apparently feature new seats)
On top of that, American’s order comes with a further 28 options for the aircraft. I find it interesting that American’s press release doesn’t say anything about that, while Boeing’s press release does.
American’s current 787 fleet consists of 35 aircraft. Once all is said and done, American will operate a fleet of 89 Boeing 787 aircraft (assuming they don’t take any of their options). That would make them the largest operator of the 787 in the world.
American also announced that they’ve terminated their agreement with Airbus regarding their order of 22 Airbus A350s. This order was originally placed by US Airways, and they’re not going with the A350 as part of a strategy of simplifying their fleet. Just about everyone saw this coming, given that they’ve deferred this order over and over.
Here’s what American’s president had to say about this decision:
“We have two excellent partners in Boeing and Airbus and our relationship with both manufacturers goes back many years. Both offer specific aircraft that provide us with the right lift on specific missions across our global network. This was a difficult decision between the Boeing 787 and the Airbus A350 and A330neo and we thank both manufacturers for their aggressive efforts to earn more of American’s business. In the end, our goal to simplify our fleet made the 787 a more compelling choice.”
Here’s what American’s CFO had to say:
“Today’s announcement is influenced by our goal to simplify our fleet and reduce the number of aircraft types we operate. Our prior plan would have had us operating five widebody aircraft types, and with today’s announcement we will soon reduce that to three. These new replacement aircraft are consistent with our previous plans for the size of our widebody fleet.”
“We see significant advantages to carrying common fleet types, including creating less friction in our operation when aircraft swaps are necessary, reducing inventory needs, and creating a more consistent service for customers and team members.”
I certainly see the logic for wanting a simpler fleet, and I’m surprised that more airlines don’t take that approach. Look at Qatar Airways, which has A330-200s, A330-300s, A340-600s, 777-200s, 777-300s, 787-8s, 787-9s, A350-900s, A350-1000s, and A380-800s, in their longhaul fleet. On top of that, they have orders for 777-8s and 777-9s.
Interestingly American has also announced that as part of this they’re deferring the delivery of 40 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, which were previously scheduled to be delivered between 2020 and 2022. They say that this better aligns with their planned retirement of other narrowbody aircraft. They had 100 of those planes on order, so it sounds like they’ll only have 60 on order going forward.
I’m not sure what exactly they mean by that. American will retire 45 Boeing 737s over the next couple of years, so I’m not sure if American is deciding to keep those 737s for a longer time, or what exactly has changed in their short-haul fleet plan. It sounds to me like their demand forecast has changed more than anything.
So this is all big news from American — there’s a new 787 order, a canceled A350 order, and a mysterious deferment of their 737 MAX order.
What do you make of this news from American?