American Airlines uses COVID-19 disruption to retire vintage 737s and other jets

American Airlines Boeing 757-200 ©AirTeamImages

Having announced two weeks ago that it was to retire 34 Boeing 757s and 17 Boeing 767s, American Airlines has announced that with the dramatic downturn in world travel, it will now be retiring 76 Boeing 737s that the carrier acquired between 1999 and 2001. In addition, it will also be retiring nine Airbus and 20 Embraer E190s according to Reuters news agency.

There is also the distinct possibility that a number of its 50-seat regional jets will also be retired. American Airlines sees this as an opportune moment to retire an additional number of jets with a view to replacing them with Boeing 737MAX jets that are currently on order but awaiting the lifting of the model’s grounding after two fatal crashes.

“Decisions beyond the 757 and 767 have yet to be finalized, and we continue to make refinements to our overall fleet plan,” American spokesman Ross Feinstein said, adding that decisions would be based on demand. The move to newer, more fuel-efficient jets, while avoiding costly retrofitting that may have been required on older 737s, will still require considerable expenditure, but running costs will be significantly reduced as a consequence.

While many carriers may now choose to dispose of older aircraft, this could prove beneficial for the manufacturing side of the aerospace sector as a demand for new jets could increase substantially with an increased rate in retirements. To date, American Airlines has temporarily parked 135 out of 150 wide-body jets — including 787 Dreamliners — and more than 300 single-aisle jets, and may continue to park more of its smaller aircraft as the COVID-19 crisis continues, the carrier’s president, Robert Isom, told employees.

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