Could American Airlines Replace Boeing 757s With New Airbus A321 Model?

Jun 8, 2019

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Could American Airlines turn to Airbus and a proposed long-range version of the Airbus A321 to replace the aging 34 Boeing 757-200 jets in its fleet?

That’s the suggestion from Bloomberg News, which cites unnamed “people familiar with the matter” in reporting that American is considering such a move.

Airbus has not formally launched the XLR version of its popular A321 narrow-body, but there’s speculation that the European jetmaker will do so later this month at the Paris Air Show. Bloomberg notes “the proposed plane, with a redesigned fuel tank that would extend the range of an existing long-distance A321 version by as many as 900 nautical miles, would be able to fly from American’s Dallas hub to central Europe.”

Neither Airbus nor American commented to Bloomberg, which went on to write  the reported talks “are at an early stage and there’s no guarantee the airline will order the XLR.”

Still, the report comes as a number of airlines have pushed Boeing and Airbus for a new “mid-market” narrow-body plane that could match the long-range capabilities  of the now out-of-production Boeing 757.

Boeing has debated for years about whether to launch a new model capable of such missions, though Bloomberg notes “final decisions are on hold while the company focuses on the 737 MAX crisis.”

Aside from American – its 34 757s have an average age of 19 years, according to Bloomberg – Delta and United also have 757s in their fleets. The capacity and range of the planes allow them to perform missions not easily duplicated by other narrow-bodies now on the market.

More broadly, should American go ahead with an order for an XLR version of the A321, Bloomberg says it would be “a big blow to struggling Boeing Co.’s rival foray into mid-range flying.”

For now, all eyes will be focused on the upcoming Paris Air Show, which kicks off June 17 and is often used as a venue to announce major aircraft programs or orders.

Featured image by Alberto Riva/TPG.

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