American Airlines Retires Entire Airbus A330 Fleet

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In its third-quarter financial results announced Thursday, American Airlines confirmed it would be retiring the remainder of its A330s. The last of the Airbus widebodies inherited from US Airways, already in storage, will exit immediately. This means that the airline will now operate an all-Boeing long-haul fleet.

American A330 retirement
American Airlines is retiring all of its A330s effective immediately. Photo: Getty Images

Many believe that one of the ways forward out of the crisis is fleet simplification. Having one type of aircraft or, at the minimum, from one manufacturer means fewer maintenance and training expenses. American Airlines is taking at least one step in that direction, as it is retiring its Airbus A330s. The decision, effective immediately, will see the carrier operating an all-Boeing widebody fleet.

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Twenty-four A330s out since March

Before the general mayhem of March 2020, American Airlines operated a fleet of 24 Airbus A330. Nine of those were A330-300s of about 20 years of age, which were parked and then retired almost right away at the onset of the crisis.

The other 15 are of the shorter A330-200 model, with an average age of 8.9 years. They are also parked, in Roswell, New Mexico, since April this year. At the time they were flown to storage, American expressed the intention of maintaining them in its fleet moving forward.

American Airlines A330 retirement
All of American Airlines’ A330s came from the merger with US Airways. Photo: Christian Volpati via Wikimedia Commons

However, the unpredictability of the long-term implications of the pandemic has caused the carrier to reconsider. American revealed Thursday in its third-quarter financial results that the decision had been made to retire the rest of its Airbus long-haul jets without delay.

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The airline’s financial results further revealed that it suffered losses of $2.4 billion in the third quarter. The average daily cash burn amounted to $44 million per day.

All US Airways jets

American’s A330s all came from US Airways. The former major US carrier merged with American in 2013 to form the world’s largest commercial airline. The A330s all transferred to American between December 2013 and March 2014. American announced plans to discontinue the US Airways name in 2015, and it ceased operations a few months later.

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American Airlines 787
In 2018, American canceled an order for 22 A350s in favor of Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner. Photo: Getty

The 787 over the A350 for simplification

American also inherited an order for 22 Airbus A350s from its merger, along with the A330s and US Airways’ chairman, president, and CEO, Doug Parker. After initial deferrals, the carrier reached an agreement with Airbus in April 2018 to cancel the order altogether. That very same month, American placed an order for 47 Boeing 787 Dreamliners, of which it already had 35, instead.

“This was a difficult decision between the Boeing 787 and the Airbus A350 and A330neo and we thank both manufacturers for their aggressive efforts to earn more of American’s business. In the end, our goal to simplify our fleet made the 787 a more compelling choice,” president of American Airlines, Robert Isom, said at the time of the order.

Will fleet simplification be a necessary strategic move for airlines to begin to turn the numbers around? Let us know your thoughts in the comments. 

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