MAX Grounding Causes American Airlines To Retain Old Aircraft

The grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX has gone on for so long that American Airlines is now forced to retain old aircraft they planned to retire, as reported by CH-Aviation.

Amercan Airlines 737 aircraft side view
American has the second-largest MAX fleet in the world. Photo: AA.

What are the details?

American Airlines has been hit hard by the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX. They have 24 aircraft that are stuck on the ground and another 76 aircraft to come. Seven should have arrived this year but, instead, are sitting in a carpark at the Boeing factory.

“The company has canceled all 737 MAX flying through November 2, 2019. In total, the company presently expects the 737 MAX cancellations, which are assumed to extend through November 2, 2019, to negatively impact its 2019 pre-tax earnings by approximately $400 million.”American Airlines investor report.

American Airlines 737 MAX ban
American Airlines has removed the MAX from schedules until November. Photo: American Airlines

As such, American Airlines has had to put the brakes on their planned retirement of older aircraft, such as:

  • A320s
  • B737-800
  • B757-200
  • They might even need to delay their plans to retire the MD-83 in Septemeber this year.

“We have extended the operating life of some of our A320, 737, and 757 aircraft on a short-term basis. These extensions will allow us more flexibility as we deal with the grounding of the MAX and the late delivery of the A321neo and provide modest and efficient growth to our fleet,” said CFO Derek Kerr.

So far, American Airlines has taken delivery of just five Airbus A321neos but expects another 115 to be delivered over the next five years. This order also includes fifty of the new ultra-long-range A321XLR type.

Airbus A321XLR in American Airlines livery. Photo: Airbus

In 2019, the company expects to take delivery of 41 mainline aircraft comprised of 12 A321neo aircraft, 20 B738 MAX aircraft, two B789 aircraft, and seven used A319 aircraft. The company also expects to retire 45 mainline aircraft, including nine B763 aircraft, six E190 aircraft, and 30 MD80 aircraft. However, this expectation might not be met if the grounding of the 737 MAX continues into next year.

What are the older aircraft like?

The one aircraft that jumps out in the above list is the Boeing 757-200. This aircraft which is pushing well over 20 years at this point, would be one of the oldest in the American Airlines fleet.

The aircraft carries 176 passengers in two cabins. The business cabin has 16 seats in a 2 – 2 configuration which, despite being claimed as ‘lie-flat’ seats, only provide 59 inches of pitch. That’s a bit of a squeeze compared to other airlines business class cabins (which regularly have around 80 inches of pitch).

The economy cabin is split into two sections, normal economy and a ‘Main Cabin Extra’, which gives passengers an extra six inches of legroom and is located at the front of the cabin section.

Whilst American Airlines has maintained this fleet of aircraft and routinely upgraded them, the fact of the matter is there are now passenger comforts that are missing in the design of the 757-200 that we have come to expect. Items such as quieter engines, improved humidity, larger overhead bins and windows and LED mood lighting. For some passengers, the retirement of the 757-200 can’t come soon enough.

What do you think about this news? Let us know in the comments.