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This afternoon, Boeing accidentally unveiled on its website that American Airlines had ordered 47 new Dreamliners. Now, we have official confirmation from both the airline and Boeing. The massive order includes 22 Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners and 25 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners with options for AA to purchase 28 more. The 47 new aircraft will more than double the airline’s current Dreamliner fleet (35 currently in service with another 7 on order).

At list prices, this order is worth a massive $12.3 billion. However, AA likely received a significant discount on these prices for such a large order.

As part of the order, American Airlines has officially cancelled its endangered A350 order. This is a move that seemed inevitable as the world’s largest airline seeks to consolidate its aircraft fleet types for scheduling efficiencies.

787-8 Dreamliner

American Airlines currently has 20 Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners in its fleet. Today’s order of 22 new aircraft will more than double the size of its -8 fleet. This order makes American Airlines the largest Boeing 787-8 customer, taking that spot from ANA, which currently has 36 aircraft of the same type.

AA’s announcement of this order notes that the new 787-8s will be delivered starting in 2020 and will allow the airline to finally put its sad 767s out to pasture.

Currently, American Airlines 787-8 Dreamliners are arranged with 28 business class seats and 198 economy seats. However, we can expect the new 787-8 aircraft to look a lot different for a few reasons. For one, AA has ended its relationship with the seat manufacturer of the seats on its current 787-8s. Also, while the current fleet of 787-8 aircraft doesn’t yet have premium economy, we can expect the new 787-8s to be delivered with premium economy seats installed.

787-9 Dreamliner

American Airlines currently has 15 Boeing 787-9s in its fleet with another 7 on order before today’s announcement. This new order will add another 25 planes to AA’s 787-9 fleet, bringing the total to 47. As with the 787-8, this order makes AA the largest airline customer of the -9. Again, this AA order bests ANA, which currently has 44 of the same aircraft model.

AA and Boeing have tentatively scheduled the first of these new orders to arrive in 2023. These aircraft will replace AA’s remaining A330-200 aircraft and some of its older Boeing 777-200 aircraft.

Currently, American Airlines 787-9 Dreamliners are arranged with 30 lie-flat business class seats, 21 premium economy seats and 234 economy seats. However, the first of the new 787-9 order won’t be delivered until 2023. So, AA’s seating arrangement might end up being different than what’s installed on its current fleet.

Business Class

AA’s current 787-8 business class cabins are installed with Zodiac Concept D seating. However, AA ended its contract with Zodiac in 2015 after the seat manufacturer failed to deliver seats in a timely manner during AA’s 777 retrofit. It’s unclear who the business class seat supplier for AA’s new 787-8 aircraft will be. Personally, I’m hoping that AA elects to install the same B/E Aerospace Super Diamond business class seats found on its current 787-9 aircraft.

By the time the first newly ordered 787-9 aircraft are delivered in 2023, American Airlines may likely have advanced onward to a new generation of business class seats. However, the current B/E Aerospace Super Diamond seats might still be an excellent option.

Premium Economy

All of American Airlines’ new wide-body aircraft have been delivered with premium economy since AA started taking delivery of its first 787-9s in late 2016. The current fleet of 787-8s are scheduled to be retrofit with premium economy, but we can expect the new 787-8s to be delivered with premium economy.

Economy

In economy, the experience will likely be similar to the current economy experience on both the 787-8 and 787-9: tight, 17-inch wide seats with 31 inches of pitch, but with power and in-flight entertainment screens at each seat. At least, we hope AA will still install IFE screens.

Bottom Line

This massive order of 47 new Boeing 787 Dreamliners — worth $12 billion at list price — sends clear signals that the world’s largest airline isn’t done with its fleet renewal. While the tightness of the economy seats doesn’t make the Dreamliner a dream to fly in the back, the business class seats should be a significant improvement over the business class seats they’re replacing on AA’s older aircraft.

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