American Airlines has gotten a lot of flak for the way in which they’ve been configuring their narrow body aircraft.
This started with the Boeing 737 MAX, as American configured these with more seats than the 737-800. As a result, American’s cabins are not only tighter, but the seats are also quite uncomfortable. In particular in first class the new seats are much less comfortable than the old ones.
American’s 737 “Oasis” cabin
While the 737 MAX planes were delivered with these new seats, American has also been in the process of reconfiguring the rest of their 737-800s with these less comfortable cabins (the project is known as “Oasis”), resulting in the seat count being increased from 160 seats to 172 seats. Here’s how to tell if you’re on an Oasis 737.
American’s 737 “Oasis” economy class cabin
American suspends 737 retrofit project
American Airlines president Robert Isom has today confirmed that American has stopped their Boeing 737-800 refresh program, and is putting it on hold until 2020. So far American has reconfigured 71 of their 737-800s (American has 304 737-800s).
The reason American is putting this project on hold? Due to the 737 MAX groundings, as well as due to maintenance tech issues with the planes.
It’s logical enough that American is already down about two dozen 737s due to the MAX groundings, so they don’t want to ground even more planes to be reconfigured, especially with the busy summer travel season ahead of us.
Is there more to this, though?
While putting this project on hold over the summer makes sense, the fact that this is on hold until 2020 makes me believe there may be more to this story.
There have been significant rumors regarding American possibly reconsidering the strategy they’ve been using for a while:
- There are rumors that American will fix their uncomfortable new “Oasis” first class seats, given how unpopular they’ve been with passengers
- There are rumors that American is reconsidering their decision to remove TVs from narrow body aircraft
American’s 737 “Oasis” first class seats
It sure seems to me like American is at the point where they need to change up their strategy. Their stock isn’t doing well, and their current strategy isn’t delivering the way they had hoped.
Personally I feel like it’s highly likely that American management soon turns a corner, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that includes reconsidering their 737 strategy.
So while the immediate reason here might be to keep planes in service during the busy summer season, I think there’s more to it. I’d be surprised if 737-800s are actually reconfigured with Oasis interiors in 2020.
What do you think — is American just temporarily putting this project on hold for the rest of the year, or is this part of a shift in strategy?