Max Kingsley-Jones/LONDON

American Airlines has placed a $2.1 billion order for 15 more Boeing 777-200ERs, boosting its total for the aircraft to 34.

The carrier placed an initial order for 777s in November 1996, and selected the Rolls-Royce Trent 800 engine. At that time, the airline concluded a 20-year deal with Boeing for up to 630 aircraft including 737s, 757s, 767s and 777s. American's first 777 will be delivered in January 1999, while the newly ordered batch is due to arrive between March 2000 and August 2001.

This latest 777 purchase will allow American to redeploy its fleet of 35 Airbus A300-600Rs on to US transcontinental services, which will in turn enable the airline to retire its ageing fleet of McDonnell Douglas DC-10-10s. American is also believed to be finalising a deal for the conversion of additional 757 and 767 options to firm orders.

The airline, which operates some 13 DC-10-10s and five longer-range -30s, has already started delivering aircraft to FedEx for freighter conversion.

This is as part of a deal which FedEx struck in December 1996 for the acquisition of at least 14 of American's DC-10s.

American says that the move allows it to position itself so that it can adjust its fleet plans if the market changes, and also enables it to delay the retirement of DC-10s if required.

Source: Flight International