American Airlines Has No Interest in 100 Seat Aircraft, Plans to Buy More Used A319s Instead

The Airbus A220 has been a popular aircraft. Delta was able to buy a large number of them cheap before Airbus took over sales of the program from Bombardier. It has a low cost of operations and can fly surprisingly long distances. The wide fuselage makes it a passenger favorite for comfort because each seat gets extra width. One of the signature elements of the plane is the window in the lavatory.

The new U.S. airline in the pipeline from JetBlue’s founder Dave Neeleman will fly the A220. I recently shared a trip report from Air Tanzania’s new Airbus A220.

Delta’s Airbus A220 has 109 seats, compared to 132 seats on their Airbus A319.

American Airlines has 20 Embraer ERJ-190s as part of its mainline fleet, and they’re slated for retirement. They don’t have a replacement in the 100 seat range. And, as American’s Vice President of Planning shared with employees last week during a question and answer session, they don’t have an interest in the A220.

Instead, American plans to pick up more Airbus A319s on the used market super cheap – a cost driven down, in part, by the growing popularity of the A220.

We look at any and all aircraft that are out there, whether it’s something that fits into the American Airlines fleet of today or not we will go and look at it.

One of the hidden advantages of American Airlines is we are the largest operator of the A319 in the world. As there are more and more of these kind of planes [like the Airbus A220] that come online it effectively lowers the market value of the 319s at a time when so many 319s are aging out of their initial lease terms. There were so many 319s delivered from the 2005 – 2012 window. And so that creates a unique opportunity for us where our decision isn’t necessarily go buy a brand new small narrowbody, we can still be players in the used narrow body space.

We are looking at being able to fly all of our aircraft a lot longer, because that’s a really wise capital thing to do, but we’re also being very opportunistic about how we think about that small narrowbody fleet in the future.

American Airlines Airbus A319

Although United Airlines has been speculated as a possible Airbus A220 customer, Ned Russell reported last week that the airline is suggesting they too will stick with the larger Airbus A319 and their Boeing 737-700s.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. While I’d prefer the A220 as a passenger, I think that in this case AA is right. They’re already in hock for lots of new planes, so paying those down before buying more new planes could be seen as a sensible choice. Who knows, maybe they’ll leave the seats intact rather than Osasising the cabin with tiny bathrooms and Torquemada seats.

  2. Why would they not do this when they have lots of 319s in inventory with the associated spares, staff experience. No new sim required for pilot checkouts either.

  3. I love the A319/320/321 series and it’s smart to operate as few models as possible. DL must have 30 or 35 models and configurations, they used to buy on the cheap but now that Richard is gone, they are buying new, new, new.

    AA is reducing the number down to 18 – 15 models, but many similar A320 series/ 737-800 & Max series/ 757 – 767 on the way out / 787 series / 777 series with A330-200 & 300 days numbered. Makes good business sense and hopefully will benefit them like when they had the MD80s/757-767 / 777 and A300 days.

  4. “One of the signature elements of the plane is the window in the lavatory.”

    I’m guessing that “signature element” will sell exactly zero aircraft.

  5. The A220-300 seats 120 – 150. Economy seats are 18.6 inches and seating 2-3 same as the 100 version. It would be nice to have a plane popular with customers.

  6. I think adding more A319s is the smart move, given that AA already operates many A319/A320/A321 planes. Especially used A319s which can be acquired relatively cheap. Even if AA ordered A220, I bet they would give that plane the Oasis treatment – cramped, uncomfortable seats with no PTVs and micro-sized lavatories.

  7. Small correction. AA doesn’t have any 737-700 models. All are -800 or Max.
    I never hear reports of exact differences of fuel burn differences between 320’s,321’s 319’s. Just that. “ there’s not much difference.” Bet all the airlines know.

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