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American considers A330neo and 787 among A350 options

American Airlines is considering the Airbus A330-900neo and Boeing 787-9 as alternatives to its Airbus A350 order, says chief financial officer Derek Kerr.

"Our options are to take the A350, turn that into an A330-900, or another option is to take the 787-9," he says during a quarterly earnings call today.

American has been evaluating alternatives to its order for 22 A350-900s since at least September 2017, when chief executive Doug Parker said it either needed to order more of the aircraft or select another option.

At just 22 aircraft, the size of the A350 operation would be too small for American, Parker said, citing the lack commonality with the widebody families already in its fleet.

"It's about the complexity it brings to our operating group by bringing a new aircraft," says Kerr on the A350 today.

American's widebody fleet consists of nine A330-300s, 15 A330-200s, 23 Boeing 767-300ERs, 47 Boeing 777-200s, 20 777-300ERs, 20 787-8s and 14 787-9s, Flight Fleets Analyzer shows. The A330-300s are scheduled for retirement by 2019.

The A330-900neo would have commonality with the airline's existing A330 fleet, while the 787-9 would be an expansion of an existing fleet type.

American plans to use the widebody it takes delivery of from 2020 to replace the A330-300s, which have 291 seats, says its president Robert Isom today.

United Airlines faced a similar conundrum over what to do with its order for 35 A350-1000s in 2017. It opted to upsize and convert the order to 45 A350-900s that will begin replacing ageing 777-200s in its fleet from 2022.

American does not have a timeline for a decision on the A350s as the first aircraft is not due until 2020, says Kerr.

The carrier inherited the A350 commitments from US Airways when the airlines merged in 2013. It has made a number of changes to the order since then, including converting it to all -900s from the -800 in December 2013, and postponing the first delivery multiple times.

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