American to up capacity on 737s and MD-80s

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American Airlines plans to add seats to its fleet of Boeing 737-800s and McDonnell Douglas MD-80s in order to best match supply and demand.

The Fort Worth-based carrier has yet to make a decision on the number of seats that would be added but Lauri Curtis, vice-president of flight services at the airline, says that the move would require the addition of one flight attendant to the 737s.

"We are constantly taking a look at what our operation needs, and that includes how our fleet is configured," she explains in an employee newsletter on 12 June. "And sometimes, we make adjustments when we think it helps match supply to demand but can still be competitive. So from where we stand today, we expect to add seats to the 737 and MD-80 fleets, but we haven't yet determined the right number of seats, and as a result, the impact on revenue and cost."

American could add seats by either decreasing pitch, taking out existing galleys and closets, or installing new slimline seats.

The airline's 737-800s have between 148 and 160 seats, and its MD-80s 140 seats, according to American.

United Airlines took a similar step last year when it decided to add between six and 12 seats to its 152 Airbus A319s and A320s with new slimline Recaro seats. The first A320 in the new configuration entered service on 13 May.

American has 211 737-800s and 183 MD-80s in its fleet, according to Flightglobal's Ascend Online database. It has orders for another 95 737-800s.