American Airlines Retires 22 Boeing 737s And Changes Its Paint

Heading into 2021, American Airlines reduced its fleet of Boeing 737-800s. The airline has already retired 22 of the older 737-800s from its fleet as it targets efficiency. One way that American Airlines is reducing its costs and becoming a greener airline is by changing the paint it uses for its Boeing 737-800s.

American Getty Hangar
American Airlines has retired 22 Boeing 737-800s. Photo: Getty Images

American Airlines has selected a new paint for its 737-800s

To keep its planes looking fresh, an airline has to get a plane’s paint scheme refreshed about every eight to ten years. While it is not necessarily always a new livery or livery change, there are times when carriers tweak their paint scheme.

Aircraft paint stripped
The plane’s existing paint was removed entirely, revealing the bare skin of the aircraft. Photo: American Airlines

American’s current livery was debuted in 2013. Since then, the airline has repainted all of its planes in the new livery, and the time has now come for the airline to give those planes a refresh. However, American is doing something new for the aircraft heading in to be refreshed.

Instead of the original mica gray paint, the airline is going for a new, non-mica gray paint that looks nearly identical to the current paint scheme. However, this new paint is less expensive and lighter, which also makes it more fuel-efficient. The new paint color is called “Silver Eagle.”

Different paint
You can see the difference between the two paints. Photo: American Airlines

The mica layer with the old paint adds around 62 pounds to the weight of a Boeing 737-800. While that does not seem like much, it leads to incredible savings when you do the math.

The airline is operating with 282 Boeing 737-800s currently. Each plane flies up to six trips per day. With the 62 pounds of weight saved, the airline expects to save nearly 300,000 gallons of fuel annually in the Boeing 737-800 fleet alone.

Boeing 737 repainting
American expects to repaint all of its Boeing 737-800s. Photo: American Airlines

The refreshed livery will be gradually introduced, starting with the 737-800s. New aircraft that American has on order are expected to be delivered with the non-mica paint from the second half of 2021.

According to Jill Naden, 787 Engineer at American, moving American’s fleet to the Silver Eagle paint will save approximately one million gallons per year in fuel burn, which will reduce the carrier’s carbon emissions by 9,525 metric tonnes each year after the airline’s fleet is repainted.

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American has retired 22 Boeing 737-800s

Slipped into this announcement of the new mica-free paint color is American’s Boeing 737-800 fleet count. At 282 aircraft, the airline has retired 22 planes from its fleet. Previously, American had 304 Boeing 737-800s in its fleet.

American Boeing 737-800
This freshly repainted Boeing 737-800 is not one of the jets that were retired. Photo: American Airlines

According to American, those 22 jets were older planes in American’s fleet that the carrier highlighted for their departure. These planes likely had expensive maintenance checks coming up, and the team’s analysis likely concluded they would not be worth the expense. These planes also may have needed to undergo the harmonization retrofits American is hoping to complete by early 2021.

MAX deliveries have resumed

In December of 2020, American Airlines began receiving Boeing 737 MAX jets again following the lifting of the type’s grounding in the United States. As those more efficient jets enter American’s fleet, it makes sense to let some older 737-800s go and save on costs to retrofit and maintain them.

American 737 MAX
American Airlines has resumed its Boeing 737 MAX commercial operations and continues to take delivery of the planes. Photo: American Airlines

American has aggressively targeted fleet renewal and harmonization. The MAX jets seat 172 passengers and are back in commercial service. American Airlines is a fan of the 737 MAX and appreciates the cost savings the plane delivers. As it takes MAX jets and grapples with the overall downturn in travel, it makes good business sense to retire older jets. American has already retired planes it did not want or need anymore in favor of fleet efficiencies. This includes the Airbus A330s, Boeing 757s, Boeing 767s, and Embraer E190s.

Are you glad to see American Airlines change the paint for its livery? Do you think retiring the older Boeing 737-800s as MAX deliveries have resumed is a good idea? Let us know in the comments!