American may have announced a $360 million loss excluding special items yesterday, but that news was overshadowed by the airline’s decision to order up to 100 787 Dreamliners. They join Delta/Northwest and Continental as having 787s on order while United . . . still does not.
So the story is that American has ordered 42 787-9s and kept the rights for 58 more of them. They have not ordered any of the smaller 787-8 aircraft, though I would assume that they could swap for them if they really wanted to at a later date.
The 787-9 will hold 250 to 290 passengers. That’s a decent increase over the 225 seats you’ll find on one of their 58 767-300s today, but it will slot in between those and the 47 777s they’re also flying. My guess is that if they do use this aircraft to replace airplanes instead of grow (as they’ve indicated), they’ll start with some of their older 767-300s (the first of which turn 20 this year).
But, by 2012 when the first plane arrives, they may very well use this plane to focus on expansion. By then there will hopefully be a stronger economy and an increase in global traffic. I would assume that they’ll keep the flexibility to make that decision later on if they can.
Wait, did I say 2012? Pretty interesting that though Boeing was thought to have its 787 line booked solid for years, they still found room for American to start taking deliveries in just four short years. You’ve always gotta take care of your best customers, right? According to the Airline Biz blog, American had actually negotiated in a previous contract that they get early dibs on aircraft if they want them.
Now, American just has to come to terms with its pilots on how much to pay them to fly the plane. If they can’t, they actually built in the right to cancel the order. Nothing like building in some leverage into your negotiations.
And yes, the question I’m sure every airline dork cares about (and nobody else does) . . . will the planes be able to keep the metallic finish that American is known for or will they have to paint the composite planes gray like they originally did with the A300? Well, this artist’s impressions makes it look gray:
But I think it’s safe to say that this is probably the last thing on their minds. We’ll figure it out down the road.