American Is Deferring Delivery Of Their A350 Aircraft

Filed Under: American

Well this is unfortunate. For several years now American has been taking delivery of new planes in order to refresh their fleet. For longhaul flights this has consisted mostly of Boeing 787-8 and Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, while for short-haul flights this has consisted mostly of Airbus A319 and Airbus A321 aircraft.

While American has been taking delivery of Boeing 787-8 aircraft for over a year, they’ll soon take delivery of their first Boeing 787-9, which they’ll begin flying domestically in October and internationally in November. This will be the first plane to feature American’s newest business class, as well as premium economy.

American 787-8

After that, the next plane American was supposed to take delivery of is the A350, which I personally prefer to the 787. It’s a gorgeous plane, and I was excited to see it join the fleet of a US airline for the first time. However, it looks like American is deferring delivery of their 22 A350 aircraft, by an average of 26 months.

Qatar Airways A350

Per Reuters:

American said it would defer taking the delivery of the A350 aircraft from Airbus Group to late 2018 through 2022, with an average deferral of 26 months.

The deferral will reduce planned capital spending for 2017 and 2018, the company said.

There are investor concerns that carriers will continue to add flights and push down prices despite insufficient demand, and rebounding oil prices will add to their fuel costs.

Economic slowdown abroad poses an even greater risk to revenue, with foreigners reluctant to buy tickets on U.S. airlines to visit the United States as the dollar rises in value against other currencies.

This move likely makes business sense, given the state of the global economy. Most US carriers are cutting back international capacity, given weakened demand in Latin America, China, and now even Europe.

Bottom line

I can’t blame American for not wanting to continue to expand their international fleet while global demand continues to drop. It’s nice that they managed to work something out with Airbus to defer delivery of these planes, though I’m still sad we won’t be seeing the plane in operation for American for at least a couple more years now. Who knows, this might just be the beginning of new plane deferrals…

Are you surprised to see American defer delivery of the A350?

  1. This is not the first deferral for these planes. Originally ordered by US Airways these were to be the first A350s in service worldwide.

  2. Interestingly American reported on the earnings call that the deferral didn’t cost them anything because demand for the plane is strong enough Airbus was basically ok with AA pushing deliveries back.

  3. “Who knows, this might just be the beginning of new plane deferrals…”
    I certainly hope not, flying on these new aircraft makes for an improved passenger experience. These days I find myself choosing flights that are operated by newer aircraft, I’m sure many others do too.

  4. A silly move: they are highly profitable and should take the opportunityto refresh the fleet now. At least they managed to steer clear of the 380 and that looks to have been a wise move.

  5. Lower fuel prices mean A330s are more competitive and less in need to be replaced as early in their lifespans as anticipated five or so years ago when they were needed to reduce lonhaul costs. 787s were needed to replace an older fleet of 767s (for both AA and US) and AA needed the newer 77Ws to augment capacity on new uber-long routes like SYD and high capacity ones like HKG and LHR. AA can shift A330s onto more marginal long haul routes and make money now without incurring financing and amortization costs (as well as another new maintenance set up and pilot training) for a few more years. As well AA had ordered 787s while US went for A350s because it could not get earlier delivery slots from Boeing but could from Airbus. The earlier delay of delivery was a hint that fleet rationalization would be needed as a result of the merger/take-over, a significant drop in oil prices and the likelihood this would remain a factor for the foreseeable future gave AA the incentive to hold off adding another new aircraft line to the fleet until it had adjusted to the integration of 787s and 77Ws as well as interior refurbishings…all major capital-intensive moves.

  6. AA needs to either refresh the cabins of their older planes or not defer any new aircraft… Flying AA is like flying in the 3rd world at this point (though UA is no better).

  7. Most American airlines these days do operate like airlines in 3rd world country’s.
    This business of not being able to retire older flight attendants sooner is resulting old worn out gals working with younger gay men.
    It’s disgusting.

  8. I wonder if this is somewhat related to delays from seat manufacturers?

    I do hope that they’ll do a bit of a refresh on the A330s if they keep them around longer, as their reverse herringbone seats are starting to feel a bit tired after only 6-7 years in service.

  9. I read that AA was supposed to introduce a new economy plus seat that is app. 4″ wider than UA or Delta products. Does anyone know if that will be affected by these changes?

  10. “Airbus was basically ok with AA pushing deliveries back.”

    There are still monetary penalties involved.

  11. Hi Lucky
    I was on a Qatar Airways A350 flight from Adelaide to Doha. Our IFE was not working- same as everyone else’s and we were not given any compensation, not even a sorry note or upgrade. Also my seat wouldn’t recline and for a 14 hour flight this is disgraceful. The crew were also rude. Have you ever had this before

  12. @ Chris Jensen — It will still be introduced on the 787-9 in the coming months, and the A350 was supposed to be the next plane to get the product. So it will impact the number of planes with premium economy, but not the actual existence of it.

  13. Another reason not to choose American Airlines when traveling internationally: old, worn out aircraft, poor service, frequent delays, cancellations and lost luggage. #FAAil

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