American outlines launch plans for Airbus narrowbodies

Cape Town
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American Airlines aims to operate its first Airbus narrowbodies to high altitude markets and on transcontinental routes.

Deliveries of the carrier's first Airbus A319s will begin in the third quarter, and the first of its A321s follow in the fourth quarter.

The Oneworld carrier will operate the A319s on domestic routes, says American's chief executive Tom Horton during a media briefing at the IATA AGM in Cape Town.

With the aircraft having similar performance characteristics with the Boeing 757, American will also operate the A319s to high altitude markets, such as those in Latin America, says Horton.

"The A321s will be used for the transcontinental routes, markets that will require an aircraft of that size," he adds.

American has said it plans to lease the 130 A319s and A321s it has on order. While engine supplier International Aero Engines has said American's order is split between 65 A319s and 65 A321s, Horton declines to confirm this.

The airline expects to grow capacity by 1.5% this year, even as its mainline rivals are reducing or keeping capacity flat. Saying that American has been "very disciplined in its capacity", Horton says the airline's ongoing restructuring calls for renewal. "So we've had modest growth, in the low single digit. This is consistent with economic growth and the markets we serve around the world," he says.