American Will Store Its A330-200s “Into 2022” – But Won’t Retire Them

During the American Airlines first quarter earnings call last week they discussed the option to retire their fleet of 15 Airbus A330-200s. I speculated back in March that the A330-200s might leave the fleet, and even the unofficial American Airlines fleet site lists the A332s as being retired.

However American Airlines has told employees that they are parking but not retiring these aircraft. Do not expect them to come back soon, though, because they are being stored “into 2022.”

The airline reassured employees, “No crew bases will be closed and no team members will be furloughed at this time as a result of this extended storage plan.” Of course no employees are being furloughed ‘at this time’ because furloughs prior to October 1 are precluded by taking CARES Act subsidies.

American will be flying Boeing 787 and 777 aircraft internationally, and the Charlotte training center will train pilots on Airbus narrowbodies and PSA and Piedmont-operated regional jets. American has two Airbus A330 simulators in Charlotte, but they haven’t made any decisions about the disposition of those. (American even has an A350 simulator, even though they never actually took delivery of that aircraft type.)

I assumed these planes would eventually leave the fleet anyway as part of plans for overall simplification even prior to the pandemic, and as American brought new Boeing 787s on line, though these aircraft were just retrofit with premium economy.

Speculating about this decision I imagine that the A330-200 aircraft are leased into 2022, the lessor doesn’t want them back, and American couldn’t negotiate an inexpensive early-out. They also presumably have obligations to maintain the planes, hence parking them. American has been sued in the past for failing to return leased aircraft on time in proper condition. (Update: Per Doug Parker in a meeting with employees the A330-200s are owned.)

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. Gary,
    I was wondering what role Leasing companies have had in helping out airlines in the current conditions, I have seen nothing in any media to indicate that they are deferring payments or the such like, and it seems that much of the fixed cost for airlines are lease payments?

  2. Good move, but these might make a comeback depending on traffic. The -300 were an odd duck, while the -200 at least have engines in common with other AA widebodies. It’s also an easy transition from the A320 to the A330 series. These are also fairly young and were just refit last year. My bet is they will be back but prefer the 777 and 787 series.

  3. Economics will dictate that in 2022 these birds will go the way of the DC3. Maybe Parker will go as well.

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