While American concludes its 460 firm order from Airbus and Boeing will create strides in fuel efficiency and significantly cut its average fleet age, the financing supplied by the airframers is key to not further burdening the carrier's balance sheet.

Airbus and Boeing have ponied up $13 billion in financing to cover 230 deliveries, resulting in 100% financing for deliveries from 2013-2016 and 80% of deliveries in 2017.

During a 20 July earnings call to discuss the historical narrowbody order, American President Tom Horton stressed the financing requires minimal to no capital expenditure since the aircraft are being financed through operating leases.

 AA 737neo,


Horton described the financing structure as "better than what we originally had planned in our current arrangements".

He also stressed the aircraft orders improve American's profitability "in a way that doesn't put the balance sheet at risk".

As of 30 June American parent AMR had net debt of $11.9 billion, up from $11 billion the year-prior. The company's total debt is $17.1 billion, versus $16.1 billion for the second quarter of 2010.

Heralding the order Horton explained within the two narrowbody types, American will have access to six different variants - including re-engined options from both manufacturers. The replacement of the carrier's MD-80s, Boeing 757s and 767-200s gives American more flexibility to serve new markets with the right level of capacity, he explained.

Markets cited by Horton ideal for the 737-700 "current and new" models and the present generation A319s/neos include secondary domestic markets and select markets in Latin America. For the 737-800 new and current models and the A320/A320neo, American sees opportunities in "typical domestic markets", short-haul Latin markets and Caribbean markets.

Horton also believes the flexibility the orders deliver to American to "scale up or scale down" within the aircraft families is something the carrier "doesn't enjoy today".

The orders should drive the average age of American's fleet down by 33% to 9.5 years by 2017, said the carrier.

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Source: Air Transport Intelligence news