In an absolutely unprecedented move which shows just how deep and how long airlines think this current travel recession will be, American Airlines will retire five fleets from operation.
It’s not unusual for an airline to say goodbye to older planes. Over the last couple of years many have retired the B747, but American’s announcement on their fleet restructuring is unheard of. And probably smart given the uncertainty in the business.
Last month, American Airlines announced plans to accelerate the retirement of some older, less fuel-efficient aircraft from its fleet sooner than originally planned. As flying schedules and aircraft needs are fine-tuned during this period of record low demand, American will take the unique step of retiring a total of five aircraft types.
American has officially retired the Embraer E190 and Boeing 767 fleets, which were originally scheduled to retire by the end of 2020. The airline has also accelerated the retirement of its Boeing 757s and Airbus A330-300s. Additionally, American is retiring 19 Bombardier CRJ200 aircraft operated by PSA Airlines.
These changes remove operating complexity and will bring forward cost savings and efficiencies associated with operating fewer aircraft types. It will also help American focus on flying more advanced aircraft as we continue receiving new deliveries of the Airbus A321neo and the Boeing 737 MAX and 787 family. American’s narrowbody fleet also becomes more simplified with just two cockpit types – the Airbus A320 and the Boeing 737 families. This benefits American’s operational performance through training efficiency and streamlined maintenance.
Here’s a snapshot of the aircraft exiting American’s fleet:
- Joined the US Airways fleet in 2000 prior to joining American’s fleet in 2013.
- Nine A330-300s in the fleet as of Jan. 1, 2020.
- Flew mainly trans-Atlantic routes, with some domestic service.
- Joined the America West fleet in 1987 and American in 1989.
- 34 757-200s in the fleet as of Jan. 1, 2020.
- Flew mostly mainland domestic and Hawaii routes, with some trans-Atlantic and Latin America service.
- Joined American in 1988.
- 17 767-300ERs in the fleet as of Jan. 1, 2020.
- Flew mainly trans-Atlantic routes, with some domestic, Hawaii and Latin America service.
- Joined the US Airways fleet in 2006 prior to joining American’s fleet in 2013.
- 20 E190s in the fleet as of Jan. 1, 2020.
- Flew domestic routes, with extensive support for American Airlines Shuttle.
- Joined the PSA Airlines fleet in 2003.
- 19 CRJ200s in the fleet as of Jan. 1, 2020.
- Flew domestic routes on the East Coast, with service primarily from American’s hubs in Charlotte, North Carolina; Washington, D.C.; and Philadelphia.
We admit we will miss some planes but not others. In the long term this will streamline American’s fleet and bring them up to date with other legacy carriers who have been a little more aggressive in modernizing their fleet. Still this is a sad day as not reflects just how deep the travel funk is. American Airlines retiring five fleets is big news and needs to be understood for what it is… the new normal starting to appear.