American Airlines Will Fly Even Less In May, Considers Retiring Another Arcraft Type

American Airlines thinks their May schedule – targeted at 20% of its normal domestic flying and 10% of international – will be closer to demand. That’s what airline President Robert Isom told flight attendants in an online question and answer session on Friday. In a separate session with pilots he confirmed that international would indeed be cut 90%, but explained domestic cuts differently as “seventy to eighty percent.”

In the flight attendants session Senior Vice President Jill Surdek explained international flying would take longer to come back, offering “We’re not going to fly our full schedule for summer for certain. We’re in a really important booking window for summer.” Airline President Robert Isom added, “For a lot of our international service if they’re not booked six months in advance they’re not coming.” And this doesn’t even address restrictions on flying (either on flights, or on who can travel without limitation) that may remain in place in some countries.

All but 15 of American’s 150 widebody aircraft are parked. Over 300 narrowbodies are “sitting around” but Isom added “trying to make best use of time…mechanics continue to work on aircraft reconfigurations..that work will continue.” (domestic reconfigurations to add thinner, less comfortable seats has largely been done at MRO shops, or outsourced maintenance repair organizations).

American Airlines Boeing 787-8 in Chicago

Isom reports American has pulled all of their “Eagle flying” (no more regional jets) from LAX. And in addition to accelerating the retirement of Embraer E-190, Boeing 757, and Boeing 767 jets Isom shares that “from an A330-300 perspective, there’s probably some of those aircraft on leases that are coming off or that are owned and due maintenance” that they’ll retire.

At the same time they’re still planning to take new Boeing 737 MAX and Boeing 787 aircraft this year, complaining that they’re caught up with the suspension in production of 787s but they still expect new planes in 2020. That “accelerates retirement” of some fleet types, but in some cases trades planes they already own for planes they need to pay on – when at least before breaking into the taxpayer piggy bank they were supposed to be doing everything possible to conserve cash.

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. Great, lets retire aircraft and take government money to pay for new aircraft that just may sit on the ground for months! AA’s management should be investigated for not only stealing from customers and shareholders but also taxpayers.

  2. Apparently, AA’s Board lacks any insight to provide stewardship in parallel to its corporate/executive/senior management not fluent in the well established concepts of Market Positioning by Ries & Trout.

    When the skies re-open, why does AA intend to entrench itself dead last amongst the legacy carriers by continuing its self-inflicted wound by offering the worst seats in the air, complemented by the most pathetic food.

    What is the rationale of AA’s self-destruction as the kamikaze of commercial aviation?

  3. @Mark: Retiring old aircraft and bringing in new dreamliners for their long hauls when the skies open is self-destruction to you? I guess refurbishing 25+ year antique B767s, propping them up with IFE and offering downgraded ‘bistro meals’ under the disguise of ‘improved dining experience’ like DL does is a great stewardship??? Some people simply amaze me. Did you even read the article? At least think before you type!

  4. AA’s board in lot alone in its lack of insight to provide leadership and good stewardship of taxpayer money.

    As crazy as it might sound, no one would notice if trump and administration and aa executives traded places…

  5. I saw that AA state that they were going to retire their older 737’s. Back when I thought that I could do EXP in 2020, I planned longer flights and caught a 737 transcon from Miami to SFO. (unusual, as I live in DEN)

    Weird staggered seat configuration in First, obviously dated interior, Impossible to open tray-table without initial instructions (and even then, very weird).

    But the service? Great. And the flight? Smooth.

    737’s, 747’s … these are all quickly becoming a memory.

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