American Airlines has selected the Airbus A319 and A321 as the variants it will receive under its 130-aircraft A320-family fleet order, which the carrier announced in July.
The airline expects to begin taking delivery of the Airbus A320-family jets starting in 2013, but American Airlines says it is not confirming yet the exact breakdown of the two types by numbers of aircraft. All will be fitted with ‘Sharklet’ wing-tip devices to reduce fuel burn by up to 3.5 per cent over current A320-family jets.
In the quarterly 10Q financial filing American Airlines made to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on October 19, the carrier noted it would take all 130 of the aircraft on 10-year leases from or via Airbus; 20 of the aircraft will be delivered in 2013, 35 in 2014; 30 in 2015; and 45 in 2016 and beyond.
American also holds options on 70 more current-generation Airbus A320-family jets and purchase rights on 15 more. If American exercises any of these commitments, the aircraft would be delivered from 2014 to 2017.
The airline has confirmed all the current-generation Airbus A319s it will be leasing will be powered by CFM56-5B engines from CFM International, a joint venture between General Electric and Snecma.
However, all the current-generation Airbus A321s will be equipped with V2500-A5 engines from International Aero Engines (IAE), a joint venture between Pratt & Whitney, MTU and JAEC.
It is quite unusual for airlines to select more than one engine type within an order for one aircraft family. However, both American’s A319 fleet and its A321 fleet are likely to be large enough to offer enough economies of scale for operating two engine types to be economically justifiable. Additionally, American may well also have received significant financial incentives from both CFM International and IAE.
The airline declines to disclose the financial terms and conditions of its CFM56-5B and V2500-A5 engine purchases.
Beginning in 2017, American plans to begin taking delivery of 130 Airbus A319neos and A321neos it has also ordered. The carrier plans to take delivery of 10 aircraft in 2017 and from 20 to 25 a year from 2018 through 2022 inclusive. (Effectively this means taking 20 aircraft in only one year and 25 in each of four others, or 24 aircraft in all five years beginning in 2018.)
American also has taken options on no fewer than 280 Airbus A320neo-family aircraft, which if exercised would all be delivered between 2017 and 2025.
The carrier’s engine choices for its current-generation A320-family jets suggest it could well choose the CFM LEAP-1A engine to power its Airbus A319neos and the Pratt & Whitney PurePower PW1100G geared turbofan to power its A321neos. The two engine types are the two propulsion options for the A320neo family.
The carrier says its current-generation Airbus A320 family aircraft will offer a 35 per cent reduction in fuel cost per seat versus the McDonnell Douglas MD-80 and a 12 per cent and 15 per cent fuel cost reduction per seat, respectively, versus the Boeing 757 and Boeing 767-200.
American currently operates large numbers of MD-80s and 757s and has a fleet of 15 Boeing 767-200s which it uses for transcontinental services linking New York with Los Angeles and San Francisco.
“We are aggressively moving forward with our plans to have the youngest, most fuel-efficient fleet in the U.S. in the next five years,” says Tom Horton, president of parent holding company AMR Corp and American Airlines. “The A319 and A321 aircraft will strengthen our fleet, helping us dramatically improve our fuel and operating costs, while at the same time, offering our customers the chance to fly in aircraft that are designed to greatly enhance their travel experience.”
American says the Airbus A320neo-family jets it will begin receiving in 2017 are about 15 per cent more fuel efficient than today’s models. Sharklets will be standard fit on all A320neo-family aircraft.
Dallas/Fort Worth-based American is scheduled to be the first network airline in the U.S. (but not the first U.S. airline, an honor which will fall to Virgin America) to deploy the new Airbus aircraft.
American says its 260 new Airbus aircraft will all feature cabin interiors with increased overhead storage, reduced noise and ambient lighting options.
The carrier is also strengthening its Boeing fleet, with plans to acquire 200 additional aircraft from the 737 family, with options for another 100 737 family aircraft.
As part of the Boeing agreement, American plans to take delivery of 100 aircraft from Boeing’s current 737NG family starting in 2013, including options on three Boeing 737-800s that the carrier exercised on July 1.
American also expects to acquire 100 of the latest-generation Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, which will be powered by CFM International LEAP-1B engines. The new-engine variant is expected to have 10 to 12 per cent lower fuel burn than current 737s.
Texas-based American’s most recent deliveries of the 737-800, with 160 seats, include the all-new Boeing Sky Interior, offering larger overhead bins that pivot down and out. These bins are similar to those on the Boeing 787.
The airline says the Boeing Sky Interior also offers a contemporary feeling of spaciousness, and variable LED lighting options for cabin ambience.
American plans to acquire 42 Boeing 787s, which are currently scheduled to be delivered starting in late 2014.
The carrier also has firm orders for nine Boeing 777-300ERs and six additional Boeing 777-200ERs. Two Boeing 777-300ERs are scheduled for delivery in 2012 and seven in 2013, while American will receive two 777-200ERs a year from 2014 to 2016. American converted an order for one 777-200ER to specify a larger 777-300ER instead.