American Airlines Retiring 737s, A330s, And More

Filed Under: American

Airlines around the globe are parking planes to react to the huge decrease in demand for air travel. It has become pretty apparent that demand won’t just be fully rebounding in a couple of months, but rather a full recovery is likely to take years.

As a result, airlines are taking the opportunity to accelerate the retirement of many aircraft type. If they were going to retire planes soon anyway, then they might as well retire them now.

American Airlines had already announced plans to retire all their 757s and 767s earlier than expected — this includes 16 Boeing 767-300s and 34 Boeing 757-200s.

American Airlines is retiring all Boeing 757-200s

Well, it looks like American will be retiring even more planes. Reuters reports that American Airlines plans to retire three additional aircraft type, including:

  • 76 of their 328 Boeing 737-800s; specifically, those that are the oldest, which were delivered between 1999 and 2001
  • All nine of their Airbus A330-300s, which were delivered to the airline in 2000-2001; the airline will maintain their fleet of 15 A330-200s
  • All 20 of their Embraer 190s, which are the smallest mainline aircraft that American Airlines has, and which operate some of their shuttle routes

American Airlines is retiring all Embraer 190s

I wouldn’t say this move is particularly surprising:

  • American was going to retire their Embraer 190s by the end of 2020, and one of the main reasons they kept them around is because 737 MAXs are grounded
  • The A330-300s have been on the way out; these are planes on which American didn’t install premium economy, as these planes are to be replaced by the 787-8s that American has on order
  • American was initially planning on retiring their first batch of 737s in 2019 and 2020, but due to the 737 MAX being grounded, that timeline was delayed

American Airlines is retiring their first batch of 737-800s

Bottom line

While American Airlines is temporarily parking hundreds of planes, the airline plans on retiring 145 planes almost immediately, given the anticipated long term decrease in demand.

There’s nothing terribly surprising here — these were all planes that were supposed to be retired in the next year or so anyway. American Airlines has a mainline fleet of nearly 1,000 aircraft, so while 145 planes isn’t insignificant, it’s also probably not going to fully do the trick in terms of adjusting to demand.

American also has a further 225 aircraft on order, including A321neos, A321XLRs, 737 MAX 8s, 787-8s, and 787-9s. It’ll be interesting to see how many of those orders stick.

What do you make of American Airlines’ early aircraft retirements?

  1. I was a bit sad that I would never get a chance to do one last flight on the 757 and 767 with AA. Not that it was anything great! Just decades of memories.

    Now I will just be happy to fly again on anything.

  2. @Ben:

    “It has become pretty apparent that demand won’t just be fully rebounding in a couple of months, but rather a full recovery is likely to take years.”

    Agree that a full rebound won’t happen in a couple of months — but will most likely not be YEARS.

    Let’s all try to keep things in perspective as much as we can.

  3. One of my favorite equipment is the 763 MIA JFK MIA…. just rebooked a flight to October and happy to see it is still in rotation.
    I know I may be alone but I really like the 763.
    Sad to see it go next year.

  4. @Rob in Miami – the 763s will be gone by May…you will definitely not be flying one (on AA) in October.

  5. Ben, I’d love to hear your articulation about how you think things will unfold with airline travel. I know it’s impossible to predict, but I’d love to see a post where you break it down, e.g.
    Phase 1: Now until – ___ : Nearly no passengers
    Phase 2:

    etc, etc,

  6. Does every one of those 752s get snapped up and continue in revenue service with other carriers? I hear they are popular on the secondary market.

  7. This is definitely a downgrade for domestic flights. I could always count on a flat bed to PHL, SFO, JFK and SJU. I loved those planes… now nada. SAD.

  8. I flew a 757 back from PHL just a few weeks ago and was thinking, this might be close to the end of the line for this old bird. . .little did I know it would be so soon. AA will end up with one of the most modern and standardized fleets when we start coming out of this. The are making smart moves and can bounce back over the next few years with the new planes in the pipeline although I suspect they will be slower into the fleet then originally planned.

    Be interesting if DL drops the entire 767 and 757 fleets as well. They are long in the tooth and they have a lot of new A330’s and A350’s on hand now. Who knows what UA will do. I see both UA and DL in a weaker position then AA since they have more EU and Asian flights and I don’t see that traffic recovering anytime soon. Time will tell but seems like AA disaster preparedness is ahead of the rest.

  9. SWISS probably would have retired the 4 (or is it 5) A340s reather then refurbishing them… the last frame entered service just a few weeks ago.

  10. @ted
    traditionally they were as good as sold the second people knew they were available right now though probably not

  11. Yep, the airlines will really be different companies as we all collectively recover from covid19 situation. Why not get rid of the less efficient aircraft on an accelerated schedule, the airlines are already taking the loss from nonexistent travel demand. I was lucky enough to fly a United 757 in February, lots of good memories as well.

  12. @sunviking82 Delta had a larger roster of 757/767s than AA pre-coronavirus. The 767s were used to serve South America and less premium EU cities, along with domestic trunk routes like LA-NYC and the occasional flights into tourist hotspots like Vegas and Orlando.

    Many 767s, especially the -400 units were also recently refurbished, so DL is quite unlikely to retire them quickly. They’re also paid off.

  13. Regarding the future of airline travel, I think Obama gave an insight today to where the progressives would like it to go. Basically, what he tweeted was the virus restrictions are just a warmup for what we as a society are going to be made to do in the name of global warming. I can envision a future when all recreational travel will be banned. Only if you are a government employee, or a highly connected political party person will you be allowed to travel via airplane. The rest of us will have to take a train or bus, because your personal vehicle will also be banned. Think it can’t happen? Better listen carefully because they are not hiding what they want.

  14. @sunviking82 and @John
    Another important point to keep in mind: Transitioning from 757/767 to 787 is easy (pilot training!), but transitioning from 757/767 to A330/A350 requires significantly more training and time. That’s another reason why Delta is very unlikely to follow American’s schedule.

  15. @Peter CLT will not get 787s, but will get more A332 service as PHL gets more 787 service. CLT will likely have the entire A330 fleet in the next 2 years.

    @AG the 757 and 767 fleet is now officially all grounded. There might be one 767 still flying cargo/repatriation flights from South America.

    @Orlijr you are likely to still see plenty of flat beds on domestic as the international schedule will not rebound until next summer when most of the 22 new 787’s are delivered.

  16. I sure was glad that I got to fly on a 757 from JFK to EGE this past January! What a cool flight.

  17. AA can now eliminate the 767 and 757 simulators. The older 737’s might sit for a few years; however they have value and will return to flying someday for another airline.

  18. 20 year old planes don’t seem that old.
    And while planes are more fuel efficient now, the current cost of fuel is diminishing that impact, at least for a while.

  19. The A330-300s were supposed to be replaced by 787-9s, not -8s, as they’re similar in capacity. The next batch of -9s aren’t due on property until 2023, if that schedule holds. There might be lots of new aircraft order deferrals, so we’ll see what equipment is used where. Could possibly shift a few 777-200s to PHL and CLT to make up for the loss of the 333s.

  20. This seems like a great time for cash-rich people to invest in turning some of these retiring 737s or 757s into private jets. Low purchase price, cheap fuel…

  21. I think DL will find it a much more painful decision to retire a lot of their fleet – They spent a lot to refurbish and add IFE to most of their already old planes like B767s and others. Nonetheless they will need to retire some – MDs for sure, maybe some of the old A320s.

  22. nothing worse than an old 737 on AA with virtually no overhead space, bags only fitting in length-wise and anyone in group4 or after has to gate check which makes boarding a full 1hr+. So im glad to see these go.

  23. @jcil. Yes train and bus to Hawaii , Europe to North America ..Consider people don’t just fly for vacation. They have emigrated and visiting families, medical reasons, births , marriage and death etc

    In general the US has a crap transport infrastructure.

    You can’t even get between some cities by rail and if you look at the Amtrak system map it’s full of bus connections

    San Francisco has no mainline rail station. You have to go to Emeryville on the other side of the Bay

    If it had a decent rail system people wouldn’t fly everywhere.

    And it’s mostly diesel , let alone electric

    It’s takes 2-3 times longer to get from LA – San Diego than the same distance in Europe

  24. @Rob in Miami – You are not alone. Delta operates the 767 between PDX and AMS & LHR. I appreciate the 18 inch wide seats in cattle class on those 10 hour flights. Not knowing when, or even if, these routes are going to return makes such preferences seem trivial now.

  25. @AG. thanks for the warning…. I will then take a new look at my flights (no need to catch a 7am flight if its not 763….. if you are correct).

  26. KS – good point especially about the -400 and I know that the transition of pilot wont’ be easy, but I think they will be gone verses transitioned.

    As far as the IFE, I wonder if that will be come a negative. I know where my device has been and who’s touched it. I have no idea about that screen in front of me. Could AA, AK, SW and other made the right choice all of a sudden?

  27. Jcil – You can always count on Americans for the wackiest anti-government conspiracy theories. Thanks for the laugh!

  28. Can someone please explain why emirates is still flying if they stated they would be shuttiing down Dubai.
    Flightradar24 showing alot of flights in and out Dubai.
    Stay healthy everyone.

  29. So Now my flight will be on a “Parker” 737 MAX with Tight, hard, first class seats with no tv screens, rather than a nice comfortable lie flat seat on a 767 or 757 that are usually on the MIA routes. Been EXP for years. BYE BYE AA and Parker!

  30. “… it’s also probably not going to fully do the trick…”

    Agree! They need to retire all the filthy ones and those that lack social distancing. They fly petri dishes.

    Wonder why so many cases of the Covid-19 spread “from travel.” Duh.

    So, let’s look at the style of the aircraft and ignore the attributes! That’ll solve the problems.

  31. The 757 family is a favorite for use in hot climates, its performance is not as degraded as other aircraft. They will find customers quickly.

  32. You are selling this as not a big deal, Lucky, but it will add up with other changes.

    We are looking at a much smaller travel industry for a good while.

  33. sunviking82, you have a good point about personal IFE screens! I had never thought about that before, and as an AA flight attendant, we always perceived the removal of the screens as a negative. It might be better to bring your own device after all. Remember the videos of the people using the touch screens on Delta with their feet?

  34. Why not retire all the 320s? Its overlap with the 738 and they all have to be renovated anyway. Seems it would save $$ to just dump them

  35. Rob,
    You are not alone.I myself am a big fan of the American’s 767’s. My last AA 767 flight was Jan of last year.MIA -JFK, JFK-MIA.
    Farewell AA 767,it’s been nice knowing you.

  36. The loss of 767’s will be no hardship especially on Transatlantic routes but the A330’s are a different story. They are one of the few aircraft that has a row with only 2 seats and are the best way to fly Transatlantic whilst being relatively comfortable in economy. I stopped flying with AA when they switched the A330’s on the Manchester to Philadelphia route for the very old and uncomfortable 767’s so will not be happy to have 787’s as they have rows of 3 or 4.
    Passenger’s want aircraft designed for couples with rows of 2 instead of being herded together like cattle on long journeys.

  37. I would love United to buy the 757’s and 767’s and have Boeing rebuild them. I would take a remanufactured 757 or 767 over a 737 Max any day.

  38. John,
    Unfortunately those creepy been counters at the airlines have a lot to do with that 3-3-3 configuration on 787’s and the 3-4-3 on 777’s. I like the idea of sticking the bean counters in the middle seat of coach on a transatlantic 757 or another other transoceanic single aisle.Back in the day a Boeing 707 had more aisle space than a 757 today.

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