US carrier negotiates delivery delays for all but two of 59 aircraft remaining on order

  American Airlines has completed agreements to freeze its mainline capacity growth until well into the next decade, after finalising a deal with Boeing to postpone delivery of 54 of the 56 aircraft it has on order.

The airline has finalised an agreement with Boeing to delay all 47 737-800s it has on order and seven of its nine outstanding 777s. The airline said in early November that it was negotiating the delays after it posted a third-quarter deficit of $214 million.

American will start receiving 47 new 737-800s in 2013, instead of in two years time. Two of its nine Rolls-Royce Trent 800-powered 777s on order will be delivered in 2006, including one that had been scheduled in 2007.

The remainder have been postponed by six years. The deferrals enable American to postpone $1.4 billion of capital spending planned for next year through 2007 and a total of $2.7 billion through 2010. Many of these orders had already been subject to an earlier deferral agreed with Boeing in October 2002.

The deferrals are part of American's larger strategic plan to cut costs and reverse nearly $7 billion in losses since early 2001. It will take 15 aircraft out of its fleet next year - 14 MD-80s and one 767 - to restrain capacity.

The strategic plan does include growth in international routes, including additional USA-Japan services and, if it wins government approval, USA-China operations. It would use 777-200ERs, 45 of which are currently operated, on those routes. American recently cancelled deliveries of 18 of the 36 ERJ-145s that were to join its Eagle regional unit next year and in 2006.

 Earlier this year Delta Air Lines postponed 10 Boeing deliveries for two years, but still has 66 aircraft on order for delivery through to 2009. Southwest, with at least 34 Boeing 737s to be delivered in 2005, is one of Boeing's few bright spots. Boeing says it had factored the American deferrals into its forecasts, with 2004 deliveries expected to total 285 units growing to 320 next year.

Northwest Airlines has exercised 10 of its 175 Bombardier CRJ200 options for delivery to regional affiliate Pinnacle Airlines. The order is understood to include a mix of the 44-seat CRJ440 and the 50-seat CRJ200LR. Pinnacle currently operates 109 CRJs - 32 CRJ200LRs and 77 CRJ440s.


Source: Flight International