There was a lot of discussion at an American Airlines employee Q&A about the carrier’s fleet. One employee asks, “The amount of money being spent for the retrofit of the 767, the break even point for that amount of money isn’t until like 2023 for a plane that’s only going to last a couple more years and if it has a major mechanical it goes back in the red it will never pay itself off. Why spend the money on a retrofit, let it retire naturally, and spend the money more for newer aircraft?”
American’s President Robert Isom says that’s his view exactly, “we’re working through it now, evaluating whether to put $15 – $20 million into each plane or do something different with 787s, 330s, figure out in the long run what to do with the A350 order.”
I don’t like the idea of spending a lot of money into something that isn’t going to be around” but I “also told the team though is that I’m also not comfortable in flying a product we have like the 767 around for a couple more years.
He goes on to note that the carrier’s MD80s are “around for one more year.” And they’re going to keep the best ones around the longest, while looking at replacement aircraft that may allow them to retire the planes sooner.
We have 42 that are going to be winding down over the course of this year, and be done by fall of ’19, a few remaining and we’ll keep the best ones around… the reason we keep them around though is that if we did have to get rid of them right away it really would be 40 aircraft we wouldn’t have a replacement aircraft for.
..In the last Crew News [Q&A] we had some questions about 319s and potentially going out on the used market to get 319s to bring in to facilitate going faster, we’re doing that. Hang on with us.
American Airlines Airbus A319
A pilot also asks about a rumor that American would be bringing on Airbus aircraft from Frontier.
Along the lines of getting rid of their MD80s, Isom answers noting that “American is the operator of the world’s largest Airbus fleet” and “Airbus has shifted the mix of their production to larger aircraft… They are primarily A321s that are being produced now.”
So he confirms that “Newer model used aircraft are absolutely something we have an eye out for. As we take a look at where 319s are available we’re gonna be out there after them, because we want ’em” explaining that “they’re a little bit larger than we need in terms of total seating capacity but when you take a look at the operating economics, when you put it into our fleet, it works really well.” (Perhaps they should consider the Bombardier C-Series.)
Replacing MD80s which have 16 first class seats — like American’s 737s — with ones that have only 8, American’s A319 configuration, wouldn’t be good news for frequent travelers.