American Airlines is looking to use the two Boeing 777-300ERs it has ordered to provide additional capacity in markets that are constrained in terms...

American Airlines is looking to use the two Boeing 777-300ERs it has ordered to provide additional capacity in markets that are constrained in terms of airport slots, service frequency or gate access.

In specifying 777-300ERs when exercising two options on 777s on January 19, American Airlines has become the first U.S. airline to order the type. Before January 19, American and Delta had ordered 777-200ERs; Delta had ordered ultra-long-range 777-200LRs; and United Airlines – which was the launch customer for the Boeing 777 – had ordered 777-200s and 777-200ERs.

Although American is not saying yet exactly which routes will see deployment of the 777-300ERs, a spokeswoman for the airline confirms the carrier is “looking in markets that might face slot, frequency or gate constraints.”

Fort Worth, Texas-based American Airlines has exercised options for two 777-300ERs and is the first carrier in the United States to order the 777-300ER

Tokyo Narita, Hong Kong, Sao Paulo and New York JFK are all examples of slot- or frequency-constrained markets, the spokeswoman notes, but she says this does not mean to say American will definitely use its 777-300ERs to those destinations.

However, the spokeswoman points to Cathay Pacific Airways’ use of Boeing 777-300ERs on its new Hong Kong-Chicago route as an example of the type of constrained market in which American is considering deploying its 777-300ERs.

American does confirm it will definitely operate the 777-300ERs from one or more of the five U.S. airports it has identified as its “cornerstone” markets: Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles, Miami and New York JFK.

The airline is also launching service to Tokyo Haneda International Airport from New York JFK and Los Angeles on February 18. Near downtown Tokyo and – as Japan’s biggest airport – boasting far more domestic flight connections on oneworld partner Japan Airlines than does Tokyo Narita Airport, Haneda could be another destination to which American may consider operating its 777-300ERs. They will be the largest aircraft in American’s fleet.

Noting that the 777-300ER has “slightly greater range” than the 777-200ERs that American already operates, the spokeswoman confirms the airline is likely to operate the aircraft on transpacific routes. However, American does not rule out operating the aircraft in constrained transatlantic markets as well, to destinations such as London Heathrow Airport.

“We have a lot of near-term opportunities,” says the spokeswoman. She adds that American is likely to use its 777-300ERs in support of its new joint-business agreements with Japan Airlines – which unveiled a re-branding of its logo and livery on January 19, the airline deciding to re-adopt the famous flying-Japanese-crane logo it abandoned in 2002 – and with British Airways and Iberia.

American is also strengthening its cooperation with oneworld-alliance partner Qantas Airlines, the Australian carrier announcing last week that it would begin nonstop flights between Sydney and Dallas/Fort Worth in May to replace its existing Sydney-San Francisco service.

The U.S. carrier will substantially expand its codesharing arrangements with Qantas – including codesharing on the new Sydney-DFW flights when the service begins – but since American has no rights to serve Australia, it has no plans at present to operate its new 777-300ERs there, says the spokeswoman.

American says the two 777-300ERs will be delivered in late 2012, but for now it is not confirming the specific month or months in which it take possession of the aircraft. Nor has the airline yet firmed up its cabin configuration for the new model, 20 months or more before their delivery is due.

“We don’t know the cabin configuration yet – we’re working through the process of deciding the optimal cabin configuration,” says the spokeswoman.