Topic of the Week: American Orders Two 777s


Normally I don’t think it’s worth talking about a small aircraft order, but this one caught my eye. American has ordered two 777-300ER aircraft, the first of that variant that the airline has picked up. Why would they order just two of these? Speculate away . . .

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42 comments on “Topic of the Week: American Orders Two 777s

  1. Are there 773s currently with a lessor that don’t have homes? I dunno…but, I do agree, 2 frames makes no sense.

    Cranky…I hope this is a topic that you had in mind for next week, but what in the world are your buddies at Vision Airlines up to now?

  2. More than being the first two 77Ws that American ordered, I believe they’re the first 77Ws that any US-based airline has ordered, despite the model’s huge popularity abroad. I wonder if this presages further purchases from US airlines, especially those that will ultimately need to replace their 747s (Delta and United).

    1. The main reason why the 773 hasn’t been so popular among US carriers… the same reason the A380 hasn’t yet been sold to a US carrier and the reason even the 747 never had staying power with many US carriers is that the US isn’t as capacity constrained (or congested) as the rest of the world. Our airports are larger, with much more capacity, and our aviation network is far less dense. We much prefer point-to-point low-capacity flying, whereas other countries use rail for much of what we hop on a plane to do.

    1. Lol. Ugh, heavens no. I can’t stand the MD-8x series jets at American- very old and run down, constantly short of overhead bin space (if you’re in Group 4+, just go ahead and gate check your bag before you even hit the jetway, you’ll have to anyway), overall not a fun/great product.

      For flights under 3.5-4 hours, I’ll take a CRJ over an MD-8x any day.

  3. Maybe this partly is due to all the delays in the 787? Only 2 aircraft isn’t very many though. If they can just get them fast (ex-JAL or other airlines?) that would help them keep up with other airlines that are doing the same.
    Or, they may want to ‘upgrade’ a few of their 767 routes, but regular 773s or even 772s would work for that.

  4. It’s also interesting since the -300ER only comes with GE engines. All of American’s other 777’s have Rolls engines. Seems like there is more to this.

  5. Given that all the delays in the 787 program could be foreshadowing delays in the A350 XWB program, could airlines who have orders for the A350 consider the 77W as more of a safe bet for mid term fleet replacement?

  6. NRT-MIA anyone? That’d be pretty significant headway for the Pacific-Latin market. AA can funnel the demand through JL’s NRT hub and their MIA Latin hub. Right now Latin pax have to find a route through LAX/DFW/IAH/IAD or take a double connect.

  7. I think ORD to China or India makes the most sense. Europe is pretty saturated and mature, while the Asian market still has a lot of room for expansion of direct service to the US, not to mention its natural population growth. Plus the 15 hour ORD-DEL makes the 8 hour ORD-LHR feel like a short-haul, which would justify the highest quality premium product American could offer, which these new planes would no doubt offer.

    1. I don’t think avoiding the ETOPS rule is going to be worth an 8-10% increase in fuel burn and twice the maintenance costs….

  8. I think these are for existing flights to India and/or Japan and I think they designed to get AA’s feet wet with this aircraft prior to a larger order with Boeing or a second hand purchase from another airline. Any -200ERs freed up from deploying these new aircraft will go to either growing capacity on another existing route (by frequency or equipment upsize) or adding new destinations. I don’t think there is any way that these are going to be the only -300ERs that AA gets.

  9. Methinks there are two possibilities:

    1) They’re going to sub the 773 on an existing route like ORD-DEL or ORD-PVG because of increasing demand.
    2) This is somehow connected to QF moving their SFO-SYD nonstop to DFW. Maybe AA is planning to either launch a couple of new routes or relocate a couple of existing routes to DFW.

  10. Apparently, these aircraft can reach Australia from Dallas. Maybe AA ordered them so they could fly DFW-SYD. Maybe Qantas is only filling in the gaps so that they can get back to SFO?

  11. Maybe it’s just because AA is the only Legacy Carrier that hasn’t been through bankruptcy. Since they are still responsble to their employees and shareholders they need to make their investments cautiously.

  12. I’m pretty sure American answered this question in general right here:

    The trans-Atlantic joint business opportunity, initially representing approximately $7 billion in combined revenue between the carriers, will offer seamless service to 430 destinations in 105 countries, with nearly 5,200 daily departures worldwide. The trans-Pacific joint business, which represents more than $1.5 billion in combined revenue between the two airlines, represents significant growth opportunities for American long term as the Pacific region currently accounts for only about 4 percent of American’s total system capacity.

    These are going somewhere over the Pacific. Probably DFW-DEL or DFW-PEK.

    1. … or they’ll add flexibility to expand capacity on existing trunk routes as demand shifts… such as JFK-LHR, ORD-LHR, JFK-NRT, ORD-NRT.

  13. 777 might be more attractive to airlines on operational cost basis but for passenger appeal I rank it below the A340. I flew KLM 777 from Schipol to Manila and it was noisy and cramped. A year later, using another option, I took a Gulf Air 340 from Abu Dhabi to Manila. It had a 2-4-2 layout in economy which meant that you only ever had to clamber over one person to reach the aisle. Also, however reassuring ETOPS is meant to be, after the catastrophic failure of the R-R engine on the Quantas 380 can anybody honestly say that they would prefer to be half way across any ocean in a twinjet than one with four powerplants?

    1. Comparing a engine failure on a 4 engined A380 to ETOPS isn’t fair. Engines (as well as planes, airlines, and crews) have to meet rigorous criteria to fly with only 2 engines overwater for such a long period. The 4 engined planes actually are more likely to be delayed or have to land for a problem than their 2 engined ETOPS brethren.

  14. Technically you may be correct although you do not present statistical evidence to support your assertion. My comment was based purely on personal preference. Passengers are hardly likely to believe that their four engines are less well designed, manufactured and maintained than any two ETOPS approved engines made by one of the same big three companies. It is down to simple psychology … .four would seem safer than two (the emphasis on FOUR was used as part of a marketing strategy by Virgin on their 340s) whatever the reality as understood by knowledgeable enthusiasts such as yourself.
    It would be interesting to research how many people would choose the 777 over the 340 where they were competing on the same route with no price differential …and leaving all nationalist prejudice aside !!!
    In the meantime I will continue to fly 340 where the opportunity arises because of the other previously stated reasons.

    1. Neville, I’m not an engineer, although I’ve read reliable reports that four engined planes have a lower dispatch reliability rate than than two engined planes that can fly the same routes.

      Enjoy your seat layout, although you’ve got a higher likelihood of your flight being delayed because of mechanical problems.

      People are fundamentally irrational about airplanes, they’re extremely safe. Statistically, the most dangerous part of their trip is after they get off the plane and drive to their destination.

      Another random aside how people make incorrect assumptions its safer to raise children in the city than to raise them in the suburbs. (Its more likely they’ll be killed in a car crash, than in some incident in the city.)

      Bottom line: people are bad at judging risk.

  15. Thanks for reply. Yes flying is tremendously safer than heading off down the M1 motorway from London on a Friday evening. Mind you I am always a bit suspicious of that statistic that says you could expect to travel x million miles by air before suffering a fatality. Not much consolation if you are suffocated or burned to death like some of the first timers several years ago on the British Airtours 737 flight from Manchester to Corfu that never actually made it off the ground.
    I must confess to loving the whole flying experience ..people watching at the airport ..scrutinizing the exotic names on the departure boards ..admiring the big jets up close.
    Im also fascinated in a morbid sort of way by NatGeo’s Air Crash Investigation. That painstaking detective work often turns up some basic human error as the prime cause of a disaster.
    I also remember a weird case of a British Midland 737 which suffered an engine failure en route from Heathrow to Northern Ireland. The pilot incredibly shut down the healthy engine resulting in the plane stalling short of East Midlands runway and pancaking onto the M1 motorway.
    Finally I spent Xmas at the home of my girlfriend’s parents in the mountains of Mindanao island, Philippines. Just a few miles away is Mount Sumagoya where in 1998 a Cebu Pacific DC9 came down in poor visibility even though the pilot’s last recorded cockpit warning was “Terrain, Terrain, Terrain !”
    Perhaps one day we will find ourselves sitting next to each other on a long haul flight and can exchange further on aviation matters. Now statistically that would be amazing !!

    1. I haven’t heard a word. I believe they’re now going to order more of the 777-300s but I don’t know where they’re going to fly.

  16. it’s so sad American went the way of most airlines with the 777…..the 3x4x3 is going to keep me from flying them…..with just an order for 2, they are probably thinking of starting service to a new city in China or Asia….

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