American CEO Arpey cites economic struggles with 757s

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American Airlines is giving serious consideration to the role its Boeing 757s will play in its long-term fleet plan as the carrier's chief executive says it faces challenges with the aircraft's economics.

Carrier Chairman and CEO Gerard Arpey today during an earning's call opted not to address a query about using the 737-900ER as a 757 replacement, although the carrier has mentioned some interest in the newer Boeing model in the past.

But Arpey did highlight cost issues associated with its 757s. "It is fair to say we are struggling with the economics of the 757 fleet in light of some of the contractual issues we have with suppliers," he explains. Currently, American operates 124 757-200s.

"We're trying to figure out the best plan forward in terms of our narrowbody footprint under our long-term fleet plan and trying to figure out exactly where the 757 is going to land," says Arpey.

In June of this year American added eight aircraft to its overall 737-800 order, bringing total deliveries from 2009 to 2011 to 84 aircraft. The carrier says financing is in place for all those deliveries after it completed a $520 million public offering of enhanced equipment trust certificates during the second quarter.

Arpey is giving no indication about the outcome of the 757 evaluation. "I don't know where we'll end up."

However, taking another opportunity to highlight the challenges of the 757 Arpey says: "The cost per seat mile of that aircraft is troubling to us right now."