The weakening international economy has caused American Airlines to rethink its growth programme for 1999, with proposals for certain new routes being dropped and aircraft retirements increased.

The US major is to retire eight McDonnell Douglas DC-10-10s and two Boeing 727-200s several years earlier than planned, bringing its total aircraft retirements next year to 16.

The airline says the added aircraft retirements will save $40 million in maintenance costs during the next three years. American's fleet will still increase next year as 45 new Boeing aircraft are scheduled to be delivered.

The US carrier has also disclosed proposals to cut next year's planned growth from 6% to 4%. It is deferring plans to operate new services planned for Moscow, Amsterdam, Tokyo and Asuncion in Paraguay.

"While we continue to see 1999 as a year of growth, we have revised our plans to reflect changing global economic conditions," says the airline's chief financial officer, Gerard Arpey. "We believe we have struck the right balance for the next year, and will continue to monitor the marketplace to be sure we are poised for opportunities, yet not vulnerable to economic uncertainties," he adds.

Meanwhile, American's parent, AMR, has completed its acquisition of 8.5% of Aerolineas Argentinas and 9% of Austral Lineas Aereas, the regional affiliate of the Argentine airline.

Source: Flight International