American seeks court approval to shed leases on MD-80s

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American Airlines has asked a US court to allow it to shed leases on 24 aircraft, mostly Boeing MD-80s, in a move to cut costs as it seeks to restructure following yesterday's Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection filing.

In a motion filed with the US Bankruptcy Court of the Southern District of New York, the carrier requested to abandon the leases on 20 MD-80s and four Fokker 100s, saying the aircraft are a "cash drain" on the business.

Most of the aircraft have already been taken out of service, said American.

"After reviewing the terms of the leases, the debtors [American] have determined they are of no utility and value to them," said the airline, adding that the leases were entered into in "a different economic climate than the one facing the airline industry today".

"These same aircraft and engines have little if any marketable value and are no longer necessary to the debtors' operations," it added. Storage of the unused aircraft is "nothing more than a cash drain" on the carrier, it said.

The MD-80s listed by American were mostly built in the 1980s, Flightglobal's ACAS database shows. In its last quarterly filing, American listed four Fokker 100s, 46 MD-80s, one Boeing 737-800 and one Airbus A300 as aircraft in storage.

A hearing on the motion is scheduled to be held on 22 December, stated American. Responses to the motion are due by 15 December.