American Airlines Tells Employees Their Plans For Boeing 777-200s

At an employee meeting last week in Dallas, American Airlines Vice President on Network Planning Brian Znotins was asked at an employee meeting (a recording of which was reviewed by View From The Wing) about the airline’s plans for their Boeing 777s, in anticipation of United making a huge order for Boeing 787s.

He talked about a wait and see approach to the 777-200s in American’s fleet, whether the new Boeing 787-9s that they’re going to be getting are replacement for existing aircraft or are additive.

It’s further away down the road, but when we have a good mix of new airplanes and old airplanes that gives us a lot of capacity flexibility. So when we take a new [Boeing 787]-9 we can say it’s a replacement airplane for a 777 because the market doesn’t look very good right now, but if the market does look good then it’s an incremental airplane and we can grow.

We’re very happy with the [777]-200s, we think they’re really well-configured. They’ve got great economics. And so unless things were to dramatically change in the long haul network we think that airplane will be in our fleet for a very long time.

American is introducing new business class suites with doors. These will come with new delivery Boeing 787-9s. They’re planning to retrofit Boeing 777-300ERs with these seats (while eliminating first class, and adding seats in total to the aircraft). I’d expect them to retrofit existing 787-9s with these seats. What they’d do with the fleet of 777-200s has been an open question.

To the extent that American keeps the 777-200s over the long-term they may retrofit the interiors of these aircraft. There’s some chance that United’s big order for 100 firm and up to 200 widebody aircraft from Boeing could take delivery slots that leads to American keeping its 777-200s longer. There’s less opportunity for further replacement.

And already American is talking about keeping (at least some of) its Boeing 777-200s over the long term. At the same time, I’d expect some of the fleet to be retired and those aircraft never to be reconfigured.

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