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Published: Thursday, 7/21/2011

American to buy 460 new aircraft over next decade

Huge purchase refreshes its fleet

American says it will buy 260 Airbus and 200 Boeing 737-series craft to  improve fuel and operating costs. Deliveries are to start in 2013. American says it will buy 260 Airbus and 200 Boeing 737-series craft to improve fuel and operating costs. Deliveries are to start in 2013.

FORT WORTH, Texas -- American Airlines announced Wednesday that it will buy 460 new aircraft in the next decade, which it called the largest jet order in aviation history.

The Fort Worth-based carrier said it plans to buy 260 Airbus aircraft -- half will be A320s and the other half will be A320neos -- and will have 365 options and purchase rights for additional aircraft. It also will buy 200 Boeing 737 series aircraft, with half existing 737 next-generation aircraft and the other half a re-engined 737 aircraft.

The deliveries will start in 2013. American said it will receive $13 billion in financing from the manufacturers through lease transactions covering the first 230 delivered aircraft. The agreement includes purchase rights and options for an additional 365 Airbus aircraft and 100 more Boeing 737 aircraft, allowing American to buy up to 925 aircraft in the next twelve years.

"With today's news, we expect to have the youngest and most fuel-efficient fleet among our peers in the U.S. industry within five years," said Chief Executive Gerard Arpey. "This new fleet will dramatically improve our fuel and operating costs, while enhancing our financial flexibility."

American said the two types of new planes will replace its aging MD-80, 757, and 767 fleet as well as its newer 737-800 fleet. American said the 737 and A320 aircraft reduce fuel costs per seat by 35 percent compared to the 20-year-old MD-80s.

AMR Corp., the parent firm of American Airlines, also reported a $286 million second-quarter loss and announced its intent to spin off its regional carrier, American Eagle, to its shareholders. It did not announce a timetable for its divestiture of American Eagle and said it is still open to options, including a sale of Eagle to a third-party firm.

"Strategically for AMR, it would be beneficial, as we could, over time, diversify our regional feed with additional regional airlines to ensure we have access to the most competitive rates and service," Mr. Arpey said.

American Eagle is the last major-airline affiliate serving Toledo Express Airport, with three daily roundtrips between Toledo and Chicago's O'Hare Airport. A fourth is set to be added in late August.

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