American Airlines Looking to Buy Used Airbus A319s

There was a lot of discussion at an American Airlines employee Q&A about the carrier’s fleet. One employee asks, “The amount of money being spent for the retrofit of the 767, the break even point for that amount of money isn’t until like 2023 for a plane that’s only going to last a couple more years and if it has a major mechanical it goes back in the red it will never pay itself off. Why spend the money on a retrofit, let it retire naturally, and spend the money more for newer aircraft?”

American’s President Robert Isom says that’s his view exactly, “we’re working through it now, evaluating whether to put $15 – $20 million into each plane or do something different with 787s, 330s, figure out in the long run what to do with the A350 order.”

I don’t like the idea of spending a lot of money into something that isn’t going to be around” but I “also told the team though is that I’m also not comfortable in flying a product we have like the 767 around for a couple more years.

He goes on to note that the carrier’s MD80s are “around for one more year.” And they’re going to keep the best ones around the longest, while looking at replacement aircraft that may allow them to retire the planes sooner.

We have 42 that are going to be winding down over the course of this year, and be done by fall of ’19, a few remaining and we’ll keep the best ones around… the reason we keep them around though is that if we did have to get rid of them right away it really would be 40 aircraft we wouldn’t have a replacement aircraft for.

..In the last Crew News [Q&A] we had some questions about 319s and potentially going out on the used market to get 319s to bring in to facilitate going faster, we’re doing that. Hang on with us.

American Airlines Airbus A319

A pilot also asks about a rumor that American would be bringing on Airbus aircraft from Frontier.

Along the lines of getting rid of their MD80s, Isom answers noting that “American is the operator of the world’s largest Airbus fleet” and “Airbus has shifted the mix of their production to larger aircraft… They are primarily A321s that are being produced now.”

So he confirms that “Newer model used aircraft are absolutely something we have an eye out for. As we take a look at where 319s are available we’re gonna be out there after them, because we want ’em” explaining that “they’re a little bit larger than we need in terms of total seating capacity but when you take a look at the operating economics, when you put it into our fleet, it works really well.” (Perhaps they should consider the Bombardier C-Series.)

Replacing MD80s which have 16 first class seats — like American’s 737s — with ones that have only 8, American’s A319 configuration, wouldn’t be good news for frequent travelers.

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. I don’t think AA’s pilot contract allows them to have a 100-seat aircraft. Which is why there hasn’t been much noise around it. 319 economics are far worse than the C series because of the large engines

  2. ugh. Honestly when i read these quotes I’m picturing some torture chamber overlord.

    Of course its not the plane per se, its how they configure them.

    I have to say I’m surprised that the fuel burn of the A319 is so much more efficient than the A320.

    And what took these guys so long, the euros have been flying the A319 forever.

  3. Reviewing Wikipedia for what its worth, same engines as the 320. Of course less weight overall. The wingspan is longer than the fuselage ! So they float it up there on these big wings and cruise at 3/4 speed for efficiency. Equivalent of a minivan going 55 mph.

    I guess Its cheaper at today’s fuel price to use the 319 than pay mainline pilots to fly a new more expensive 100 seat aircraft. AA used to fly a plane of that exact size in the mainline fleet at one time, the F100.

  4. AA is in trouble. 1)Delta buys used so now we’ll buy used. 2)But we waited years before making that decision and are now behind the 8ball in need. 3)Leadership is NOT forward thinking.

    It’s clear that AA is finally getting concerned about money; cramming more seats and smaller lavs into planes. And it’s clear that they’ve had no real strategy for phasing out older planes. They are really in trouble here, they’re forcing away their loyalists with their new inferior product and yet they’re still flying limping along with old planes. They had their chance to capitalize during the merger period but now they’re at the point that shareholders are demanding progress. What a joke!

  5. Every but if need that comes out is bad fir frequent flyers. Even the minor MCE enhancements will just make it more likely that business travelers will find MCE full.

    One if the few things that make me happy I’m old, I won’t have to put up with flying for business much longer.

  6. When adding used A319s can be viewed as improving the fleet, that’s nature’s way of telling you management can’t count. It makes sense only if, you’ll pardon the expression, you’re already in a death spiral.

  7. @Mark relevant to an upcoming post I’ve got coming… AA has been unilaterally hiking pay and bonusing employees including pilots, I contend they should be getting something in exchange for that. C-Series is over 100 pax and would be mainline..

  8. I can see AA buying Frontier A319s. Air Canada has 18 and put a large order for the 737Max to replace it and the A320. Also, there are plenty of used A319s coming out of Asia. The big leasing companies also have used inventory on hand. Recall when Delta bought Southwest’s entire fleet of 88 717s (MD-95s) in a great deal; both sides were happy as clams.

  9. Reminds me of flying Midway Airlines and being able to make out the remains of the TWA logo on the wings. Oh how far we have fallen at American.

  10. I’m glad american replaces
    Airbus a319 for Airbus a220-300 also known as the cseries cs 300 or Airbus a320

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