Airline may have played companies off each other to get better deal for 460 planes
FORT WORTH,Texas—In what could be the biggest airline order in history, American Airlines is buying at least 460 new planes over the next five years, splitting the work between Airbus and Boeing.
The airline will buy 260 planes from Airbus and 200 from Boeing, with the hope the planes will improve its fleet’s fuel efficiency. American’s current fleet is among the least fuel-efficient in the industry.
The jets carry a price-tag of more than $38 billion but that could fall as big airlines are often offered discounts for large orders. Some say American might have played one aircraft maker off the other to get a better deal.
American has purchased 200 planes from Boeing’s 737 family of single-aisle planes, with deliveries starting in 2013. Half are expected to be equipped with updated, more fuel-efficient engines. The airline has taken an option for another 100 737s.
It will also buy 260 planes from Airbus’s A320 series with deliveries starting in 2013 and take options and purchase rights for 365 more. Starting in 2017, American will get the first of 130 copies of a new Airbus plane called the A320neo, which Airbus claims will be 15 per cent more fuel-efficient than current jets when it goes into service in late 2015.