The Airbus A300: American’s Former Leading Widebody

American Airlines had 35 Airbus A300s. The first arrived in April 1988 with the last delivered four years later. The type was the world’s first widebody twin, and American used them for 21 years until 2009. For a good while, the airline had more widebody seats by the A300 than any other type.

American A300
This aircraft, N77080, was delivered to the airline in April 1992 and stayed until June 2009. It is now a freighter with Mexico’s AeroUnion. Photo: Aero Icarus via Flickr.

Between 2004 and 2009, American typically operated the A300-600R (code: AB6) on shorter and higher-density routes. They had 267 seats spread across 240 in economy and 27 in business.

With economy class having nine in ten seats, the aircraft were well-suited for the lower-yielding visiting friends and relatives (VFR) routes on which they were normally deployed. In contrast, the carrier’s B767-300ERs had just 225 seats – 16% fewer.

American A300
Miami was the main airport for the A300. Photo: Aero Icarus via Flickr.

The A300 was American’s leading widebody

In 2004 – some 17 years ago – American had more seats by the A300 than any of its other widebodies.

According to schedules information from aviation intelligence experts Cirium, the A300 had 8.2 million seats in 2004, more than the B767-300ER. The gap between the two types continued to expand until 2008, the year before the AB6’s exit.

American Airlines Airbus A300 Getty
American also used the A300 to Europe, although this stopped before 2004. Photo: Getty Images

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But, the B767-300ER had more flights

However, if flights are looked at, the B767-300ER had more, with the difference in seats reflecting the much higher seating density of the Airbus twin-aisle.

It also reflects the fact that the AB6 was used on relatively short routes between 2004-2019: an average of just 1,274 miles as opposed to 3,332 miles with the Boeing type. The reason: no long-haul in this period, although American had used the A300 to Europe until a few years before.

American A300
The route with the most A300 seats? JFK to San Juan. American operated the route for 46 years from 1971 until 2017. Photo: Ward Callens via Wikimedia.

Think A300, think Miami

If the 2004 to 2009 period is combined, American used the Airbus twin-aisle aircraft from eight US airports (San Juan is considered to be domestic). Miami had the lion’s share of seats, the result of 22 routes across the Caribbean, Central America, and (northern) South America, together with domestically. These included the 192-mile link with Orlando (2004-2008).

  1. Miami: 12,846,438 seats
  2. New York JFK: 8,368,581
  3. San Juan: 6,151,146
  4. Orlando: 1,728,558
  5. Boston: 805,806
  6. Hartford: 258,456
  7. Fort Lauderdale: 141,510
  8. Newark: 128,160
American's A300 route map 2004-2009
The A300 had an important role to play to/from San Juan, which used to be an American hub. Between 2004 and 2009, some nine non-stop routes were operated, including from Hartford. Image: GCMap.

The A300’s international operations

The A300’s international operations were often an exotic affair, with routes including Miami to Caracas; this was the type’s fourth-densest route. The Venezuelan capital – now unserved because of political and economic turmoil – was also served at the time by the B737-800, B757-200ER, and B767-300ER.

The routes with the most seats operated by the A300 were:

  1. Miami to San Jose (Costa Rica): 1,155,843 seats
  2. Miami-Santo Domingo 1,069,869
  3. Miami-Lima: 841,584
  4. Miami-Caracas: 731,313
  5. Miami-Bogota: 563,904
  6. Miami-Guayaquil: 42,010
  7. JFK-Port-au-Prince: 508,902
  8. Miami-Guatamala City: 429,336
  9. Miami-Managua: 370,596
  10. JFK-Montego Bay: 307,317

Did you fly the A300 with American or another operator? Let us know in the comments.