AA says that the order for 460 jets—with options and purchase rights for an additional 465—from Airbus and Boeing will “replace and transform” its fleet within about five years. The new aircraft will be about 35 percent more fuel efficient than the narrowbodies currently in American’s fleet, by adopting new engine technology and upturned wing tips, called winglets or sharklets. Then in 2017, American will begin taking delivery of "next generation" narrowbody aircraft that are expected to further increase fuel-efficiency by another 15-20 percent.
If the options are exercised, which is likely, the transformation in terms of major operating and fuel cost reductions will continue through 2025.
Here’s the breakdown on what is regarded as the largest aircraft order in aviation history:
Boeing and Airbus aircraft in the 737 and A320 families offer a 35 percent reduction in fuel cost per seat versus the MD-80 and a 12 percent and 15 percent fuel cost reduction per seat, respectively, versus the 757 and 767-200, American said.
The agreements with Boeing and Airbus will continue American's fleet simplification efforts, allowing American to transition from four fleet types (MD-80, 737-800, 757 and 767-200) to two: the 737 and the A320 families, "which offer significant commonality efficiency and operational benefits within each family," American says.
American has arranged approximately $13 billion of committed financing provided by the manufacturers through lease transactions that will “help maximize balance sheet flexibility and reduce risk,” American says. The financing covers the first 230 deliveries.
Airbus’s NEO technology for next generation engines and sharklets will provide these benefits compared to the current version A320, according to American, including:
- 15 percent reduced fuel burn, which is equivalent to 3,600 tons of CO2 savings per year per A320neo
- Two tons of additional payload or up to 500 nautical miles more range
- Significant noise reduction
American’s commitment to two basic narrowbody types is a bold and transformational move that will eventually get rid of older fuel-guzzling and polluting models. It almost forces other carriers to follow suit. It’s also noteworthy that the two major manufacturers are so willing to help with major financing, another reason for other airlines to climb aboard.