American Airlines parent AMR became the third US customer for the Boeing 787 after reaching a purchase agreement with the airframer for 42 787-9s.
American's 787 order is the largest placed by a North American carrier to date, and an endorsement for Boeing as its commercial aircraft production is halted by a six week mechanics strike. Northwest Airlines and Continental Airlines combined have placed firm orders for 43 787s.
Deliveries are scheduled to begin in September 2012 and continue through 2018. AMR's deal also includes rights to purchase 58 additional aircraft. If American decides to exercise those purchase rights deliveries would start in 2015 and continue through 2020.
The agreement hinges on American reaching a "satisfactory agreement with its pilots union to operate the aircraft", the carrier explains". If management and pilots do not reach a favourable deal, AMR can refuse to accept some or none of the aircraft.
"Fortunately our agreement with Boeing, our long-time partner, allows for significant flexibility to manage our fleet replacement and growth plans in the way that best meets all of our stakeholders' interest," says AMR CEO Gerard Arpey.
Arpey says the agreement supports American's widebody replacement efforts and international growth expected from its proposed transatlantic joint business agreement with British Airways and Iberia. Both Delta Air Lines and Virgin Atlantic have both expressed opposition to the deal unless slots at London's Heathrow airport are relinquished.
The carrier's pilots also oppose American's proposed tie-up with its fellow oneworld Alliance partners, claiming flying done on behalf of the carrier should be performed by pilots on American's seniority list.