What Planes Will Replace American Airlines Retired Boeing 767’s?

With the news that American Airlines plans to retire its fleet of Boeing 767s by the end of May, many have been asking what aircraft American plans to replace them with? How soon will we see these new aircraft in service?

American Airlines 787
Could the Boeing 787 be the replacement for the Boeing 767? Photo: Getty Images

Why is American Airlines replacing its Boeing 767s?

American Airlines revealed the decision to retire its 767s early during a press statement regarding the challenging aviation conditions. It realized that, with most of its fleet out of action and demand at an incredible all-time low, it was a good time to ramp up its fleet maintenance and refurbishment schedules. 

Included in these schedules was the eventual retirement of its Boeing 767 fleet. Originally proposed to take place over a few years (with the first to be retired in May), American Airlines thought that maybe it should just get it over and done with and retire all 16 aircraft by the end of May.

This would mean no more maintenance on the aircraft (expensive) and no more fuel-inefficient aircraft in its fleet (even more expensive).

Getty Images
American Airlines will be grounding its fleet of Boeing 767s by May this year. Photo: Getty

How will American Airlines replace the aircraft?

American Airlines is expecting to take delivery of 22 Boeing 787-8 aircraft to replace its 16 767s. These will be used to directly replace nearly all the routes operated by the Boeing 767-300 aircraft fleet (some routes will be shut down instead) and allow the airline to open some additional new destinations.

To compare the two aircraft:

  • The Boeing 767 can carry 209 passengers to a range of 5,980 nautical miles (11,070 km).
  • The Boeing 787 can carry 239 passengers to a range of 7,355 nautical miles (13,620 km).

The new aircraft can fly further and carry more passengers than the 767s, at a reduced fuel burn saving money for the airline. Plus, passengers will have a better experience with quieter engines and better pressurization (and bigger windows for those with window seats).

AA 787 cabin
The Flagship Business cabin on the 787-8. Photo: American Airlines

It isn’t a complete upgrade across the board, however. The Boeing 787-8 carries less business class seats than the Boeing 767 (20 seats vs 28) thus there may well be less award availability for those looking to upgrade. Additionally, the economy cabin seems a little more crowded with a different configuration (2-3-2 on the 767 and 3-3-3 on the 787).

The upside comes in the fact that the Dreamliners will arrive with the new premium economy on board. This could make for a decent upgrade from economy and a new tier for award seekers to consider.

American Airlines Transcontinental 787 Economy
The new aircraft has passengers in a 3-3-3 configuration. Photo American Airlines

One matter of concern is that these replacement aircraft won’t actually be delivered to the airline by May when its entire fleet of Boeing 767s are mothballed. American Airlines already has 20 787s, but these are operating on other routes.

But concerning the current situation in aviation, likely American Airlines is completely okay to have a smaller fleet. With no routes to fly these new aircraft would be sitting empty. In fact, if the situation continues, the airline might even prefer deferring the order until a few years later.

What do you think? Do you think that the Boeing 787-8 is a good replacement for the Boeing 767? Let us know in the comments.