Assuming that Boeing can ever figure out how to end the machinists strike that has shut down their assembly lines for the past 6 weeks, Boeing has another 100 787 Dreamliners to manufacture. American Airlines announced yesterday a firm order for 42 of the 787-900 aircraft and options for another 58, with deliveries expected to run from 2012 to 2020. The planes are expected to help American modernize their fleet and potentially retire some of their older long-haul planes or, should the economy get better, expand their service. These planes are in addition to the 76 new 737-800s that American is going to take delivery of in the next two years as they reduce their MD-80 fleet.
The investment is impressive for a few reasons. The most obvious one is that such actions require a lot of money, and that seems to be a scarcity in the airline industry these days. The other impressive thing about it is that American was able to get delivery slots so quickly. Boeing has been telling new customers that orders wouldn’t be fulfilled until the 2018ish time frame. Apparently they were holding back (a ton) of slots for their better customers and American finally bit.
At the same time, Continental announced today that they are deferring some of their new plane deliveries a year or so. For the big birds (777s and 787s) this may be a strike-related delay. For the smaller planes (16 737s delayed 2+ years) it seems to be more related to their need to reduce capacity on their routes. At the same time, however, they indicated that they are going to be picking up four new 757-300s leftover from ATA’s bankruptcy. With the focus on premium and international traffic it is somewhat surprising to see Continental backing down on the wide-body orders. Then again, they probably have some pretty good reasons, or at least accountants telling them to.
The machinists strike is likely to delay things still from the expected initial delivery dates. But I’m still happy to see that airlines continue to invest in their fleets. That new plane smell is hard to beat.
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