American Airlines has a new timeline for its ‘Project Oasis’ updates to A321s, 737s

Oct 22, 2020

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American Airlines is using the coronavirus pandemic to accelerate work on some of its passenger cabins.

Retrofits to many of its Airbus A321 and Boeing 737-800 cabins — known as “Project Oasis” — are continuing apace despite broad cost cuts during the crisis. American now plans to complete work on the 737s by March 2021 and on the A321s in Spring 2022, chief financial officer Derek Kerr said during a quarterly earnings call on Thursday.

The Oasis work harmonizes the cabin configurations across the airline’s A321 and 737 fleets. The A321s go to 190 seats from as few as 181 seats, and the 737-800s to 172 seats — the same as on the 737 MAX 8 — from 160 seats.

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The updates have been widely panned by travelers. Many have found the changes that add seats to both planes uncomfortable and cramped.

In response to some early complaints, American updated changes to the first class cabin on the 737s in January. The second iteration of Oasis included improved privacy for flyers as well as additional under-seat storage space.

But American has not stopped the retrofit program. Executives view it as a key cost-saving measure to streamline the seating layouts on the airline’s fleet of hundreds of A321 and 737 jets.

Related: American Airlines is upgrading first class on its Oasis Boeing 737s

The new Oasis timeline is only slightly faster than pre-pandemic plans. In January, American said it aimed to finish work on the 737s by April 2021 and on the A321s a year later.

“We now only have four aircraft types in our mainline fleet,” said Kerr on Thursday. “The operating efficiencies on the crew, maintenance and schedule are permanent.”

American has accelerated retirements of its Airbus A330s, Boeing 757s and 767s, and Embraer E190s due to COVID. The Bombardier CRJ200s at its regional affiliates were also removed.

Related: American Airlines retires its last Airbus A330, goes all-Boeing for wide-body jets

Featured image by Zach Griff/TPG.

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