American Airlines has restructured its massive fleet-replacement deal with Boeing, following the delay caused by the recent pilots' dispute and the ratification of the agreement on its regional-jet operations.

The biggest impact of the nearly six-month delay has been on next-generation 737 deliveries, the first of which have slipped to January 1999 and been extended from 2001 to 2004. "We lost all of our 1998 delivery positions on the 737, but we were still able to hold on to 757 and 767 positions in 1998, although not all of them," says American.

The delivery of 75 737-800s, (interchangeable with -600s, -700s and possibly even -900Xs at a later stage) will continue through to March 2004. The airline also continues to hold "purchase rights" on a further 425 next-generation 737s. The delay in 737 introduction also means that an additional 25 727-200Advs will be hushkitted, in addition to 50 already earmarked for conversion. These kits are being delivered to American in a partial trade-in deal with FedEx, which is acquiring the bulk of the airline's McDonnell Douglas DC-10 and MD-11 fleets.

Deliveries of 12 757s, at the rate of one a month, will begin in June 1998, with purchase rights maintained on a further 38. The four 767-300ERs on firm order will be delivered at the rate of one a month from June 1998. Rights on another 38 767s are kept in place.

No firm decision has been announced on the 777, some 12 -200IGW versions of which are provisionally scheduled for delivery between 1998 and 2001. "Since the order was announced five months ago, Boeing has decided to build two new 777 variants [the -200X/-300X are still under study], and American is studying each type, with the goal of maximising flexibility and capability at the top end of its fleet," says the airline, which admits to favouring the ultra-long-range -200X. It also maintains purchase rights on a further 38.

The final points of the new pilot contract were settled in March, with restrictions being imposed on the regional-jet operations of American Eagle. These include a 1,000km (550nm) average flight-stage length, the proviso being that regional jets make up only 5% of the available seat kilometres of the total American Airlines/American Eagle system and only 40% of the flying hours of the total system. Other clauses include an average aircraft size of 50 seats.

Source: Flight International