Fort Worth’s American Airlines To Make Its Fleet First-Classier with 260 New Aircraft, Retrofitted Fleet

The orders for AIrbus, Boeing, and Embraer aircraft are part of American's continued investment to expand premium seats across its narrowbody and regional fleets—while supporting the long-term strength of its domestic and short-haul international network. With the move, American says it will offer more premium seats than any other U.S. airline.

Fort Worth-based air carrier American Airlines has ordered 260 new aircraft, including 85 Airbus A321neo, 85 Boeing 737 MAX 10, and 90 Embraer E175 aircraft.

American said the orders are part of its continued investment to expand premium seats across its narrowbody and regional fleets while supporting the long-term strength of its domestic and short-haul international network. 

“Over the past decade, we’ve invested heavily to modernize and simplify our fleet, which is the largest and youngest among U.S. network carriers,” American CEO Robert Isom said in a statement. “These orders will continue to fuel our fleet with newer, more efficient aircraft so we can continue to deliver the best network and record-setting operational reliability for our customers.”

American said the orders include options and purchase rights for an additional 193 aircraft. As part of the Boeing order, American has “upgauged” 30 existing 737 MAX 8 orders to 737 MAX 10 aircraft.

News announced on American’s 2024 investor Day

The aircraft orders were announced Monday, the day the airline hosted its 2024 Investor Day in New York. Isom and other senior company leaders provided an update on the airline’s performance and its path forward for “long-term value creation.”

At the event, the airline discussed a range of topics including operating a transformed fleet that’s “young, simplified, and optimized for efficiency”; driving operational excellence through continued optimization and a tech-first mindset; capitalizing on the competitive advantages of its network, which is “uniquely positioned to adapt to changing consumer trends”; attracting and retaining customers with the AAdvantage travel rewards program; reengineering the business for efficient growth with enhanced productivity; and generating “durable financial results” with expanded margins and free cash flow generation.

“Today, with our key initiatives in place, American is positioned to deliver a reliable operation for customers while generating durable earnings over the long term,” Isom said in a statement for the event. “We’re excited for the path ahead and confident in our ability to drive value for our shareholders through our commercial initiatives and continued execution.”

Expanding American’s fleet

The airline noted that since 2014, it has taken delivery of more than 600 mainline and regional aircraft.

Including today’s announcement, American said it has 440 aircraft on order, extending its aircraft order book into the next decade so the airline can continue to meet the growing demand for air travel.

“As we look into the next decade, American will have a steady stream of new aircraft alongside a balanced level of capital investment, which will allow us to expand our network and deliver for our shareholders,” American CFO Devon May said in a statement.

American said the orders support a measured growth into the next decade and smooth the delivery schedule in the coming years. Accounting for these orders, American said it expects to remain within its previously announced guidance for capacity and capital expenditures.

Domestic and short-haul international aircraft

The airline said that for the past decade, the A321 and A321neo aircraft have flown customers across the U.S. and to short-haul international destinations. American said it is the largest single-carrier operator in the world of A320 family aircraft.

“The continued investment in the A321neo is a testament to the unprecedented value of the world’s most versatile and capable single-aisle aircraft,” Benoît de Saint-Exupéry, EVP Sales, Commercial Aircraft, Airbus, said in a statement. “For nearly two decades, American Airlines has used its A320 family of aircraft, some of which have been produced in the U.S. in Mobile, Alabama, to grow its domestic and short-haul international network and provide an exceptional experience for its passengers and crews.”

American currently operates the 737 MAX 8 and the addition of the 737 MAX 10 will allow it to continue to upgauge its fleet and provide more flexibility across its network.

“We deeply appreciate American Airlines’ trust in Boeing and its confidence in the 737 MAX family,” Stan Deal, president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said in a statement.  “American’s selection of the 737-10 will provide even greater efficiency, commonality and flexibility for its global network and operations. Our team here at Boeing is committed to delivering on this new order and supporting American’s strategic growth with one of the industry’s largest and most modern fleets.”

Regional jet transition

American said it’s focused on bringing larger, dual-class regional aircraft into its fleet which will continue to drive connectivity from smaller markets to the rest of the airline’s global network.

The airline said it expects to retire all of its 50-seat single-class regional jets by the end of the decade and will continue to serve small and medium-size markets with larger regional jets.

American said that dual-class regional jets with premium seating, high-speed satellite Wi-Fi and in-seat power are expected to make up the entire regional fleet upon completion of the Embraer E175 deliveries.

The new E175 aircraft will be operated by American’s wholly owned regional carriers.

“The E175 is truly the backbone of the U.S. aviation network, connecting all corners of the country,” said Arjan Meijer, CEO of Embraer Commercial Aviation. “One of the world’s most successful aircraft programs, the E175 was upgraded with a series of modifications that improved fuel burn by 6.5%. This modern, comfortable, reliable and efficient aircraft continues to deliver the connectivity the U.S. depends on day after day. This represents American’s largest-ever single order of E175s, and we thank American for its continued trust in our products and people.”

Adding first-class seats to existing aircraft, along with larger overhead bins and updated seats

American also said it will be retrofitting its A319 and A320 aircraft beginning in 2025 to refresh the interior with power at every seat, larger overhead bins, and new seats with updated trim and finish.

American’s A319 fleet will be outfitted with more premium seats for a total of 12 domestic first class seats, the airline said. The A320 fleet retrofits will increase the aircraft’s domestic first-class seat count to 16.

American said that with the planned refresh of existing aircraft and the expected deliveries of new aircraft, premium seating in its fleet is expected to grow by more than 20% by 2026.

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