How New American Airlines Boeing 787-8s Are Coming Into The Fleet

The U.S. airline industry still isn’t as big as it needs to be to meet passenger demand, and there are several drivers of this. American Airlines is a great case study.

  • They have 100 regional jets parked, in large measure because of a shortage of pilots. Major airlines have pilots, because they pay the most and hire them away from regional carriers. But those regional airlines are having staffing issues.

  • American retired several aircraft types during the pandemic. They shed their Boeing 757s and Boeing 767s, Airbus A330s, and Embraer 190s. So there are fewer aircraft.

  • And the new planes they’ve had on order haven’t been coming as quickly as expected. That’s true for both Boeing widebodies (787-8s) and for Airbus narrowbodies (A321XLRs whose eventual addition to the fleet is delayed).

At a meeting with pilots in Dallas on December 9th, a recording of which was reviewed by View From The Wing, Chief Operating Officer David Seymour spoke about Boeing delays and quality control issues that are holding back the airline’s ability to grow its schedule.

We’re still struggling to get the 13 [Boeing 787-8s] that we should have gotten by the end of 2021. We’re going to finish up [2022] at 9. We’ve got 4 more coming, those are going to be spread out over the first half of [2023]. So unfortunately I don’t think we’re going to get full utilization of all of those 13 over the summer.

In terms of the quality, as we always have, we set a very high standard we have a lot of engagement from the flight group…we’re not taking anything that we’re not completely comfortable with. So the quality’s coming out. It’s because of the effort we’re putting into it with our team.

But when we get the aircraft we actually have to go through some configurations. We have to put the satellite wifi system on. That’s actually being done after we take delivery of the aircraft. We’re really looking at 3 weeks after we take delivery that we get the airplane.

One of the challenges we have with the aircraft, because it didn’t deliver for a period of time, a lot of the things that we have to do on that aircraft, there are some enhancements and some modifications that Boeing wants to do have not been certified yet because they needed to do that certification process during normal production and delivery process.

So we have a backlog of work that we still need to do on our existing 787s to include the ones we just took delivery of. That’s kind of a pent up that the tech ops organization is going to have to work through to get done that under the normal course would have already been taken care of.

American Airlines Boeing 787-8

The Boeing 787-8 is American’s smaller widebody for leisure and thin routes. It has only 20 business class seats. More of these isn’t exciting. What’s something to look forward to are the new 787-9s American hopes to start bringing into the fleet in 2024, equipped with new business class suites.

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