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American focuses widebody campaign on 787: reports

American Airlines has reportedly dropped the Airbus A330-900neo from an on-going widebody aircraft campaign, focusing on the Boeing 787-9 to replace its Airbus A350-900 commitment.

The Fort Worth-based carrier is no longer considering the A330neo as an alternative for the 22 A350-900s it has on order, a commitment that American management has said does not make sense for the airline, reports Bloomberg.

American is close to selecting the 787-9 to replace the A350s, a separate report by Reuters says.

The airline, when asked about the report, says it continues to "look at our widebody options" and that "no final decisions have been made".

"It's about the complexity it brings to our operating group by bringing a new aircraft," said Derek Kerr, chief financial officer of American, on the A350 deal in January. Executives previously said that it either needed to order more A350s or cancel the deal.

An order for either the A330neo or 787 would have added minimal complexity to American's fleet, as it operates both aircraft families. Without the former in the running, the Dreamliner is the understood leader.

“In this case, the competition simply priced their aircraft lower than we were willing to offer,” Airbus told Bloomberg. “We look forward to the next opportunity to compete with what we know is a superior product.”

The European airframer declines to comment.

American inherited the A350 order from US Airways, which it merged with in 2013. It converted the commitment to the larger -900 from the -800 in December 2013, and has repeatedly postponed the deliveries with the first now due in 2020.

"US Airways had [the A350] order and American had the 787 – the 787 [just] started coming earlier," American chief executive Doug Parker told FlightGlobal when asked why it opted for the 787 over the A350 in an interview earlier this year.

The airline operates 15 A330-200s, 20 787-8s and 15 787-9s, Flight Fleets Analyzer shows. It has firm orders for seven more 787-9s and options for an additional 58 aircraft.

American also operates nine A330-300s but plans to retire the type by 2019.

The carrier is also evaluating the future of its 22 in-service Boeing 767-300ERs, which Parker says either need a significant overhaul or to be replaced. Options include the A330-800neo or the 787-8, executives have said.

However, the A330-800neos lack any orders and American's reported-decision to eschew the A330-900neo reduce the likelihood that it would select the type to replace its 767s.

Updated with additional reports by Reuters

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