MIAMI — American Airlines (AA) and Airbus have reached an agreement to defer deliveries of 22 A350-900 on order, from spring of 2017 to late 2018. The move is seen as a means to reduce the carrier’s capital expenditures and improve its flexibility in terms of capacity.

The order, inherited from U.S. Airways merger, was originally placed in 2007. American Airlines will now start taking two jetliners in 2018, and five per year between 2019 and 2022. Originally, plans were to take four in 2017, 10 in 2018, six in 2019 and two in 2020.

On October 5, 2007, U.S. Airways placed an order for 92 Airbus aircraft, including 22 A350-800s. These were lately upgraded to the larger A350-900. (Credits: Airbus)
On October 5, 2007, U.S. Airways placed an order for 92 Airbus aircraft, including 22 A350-800s. These were lately upgraded to the larger A350-900. (Credits: Airbus)

With the deferrals, American Airlines will save $500 million in 2017 and $700 million in 2018, boosting cash flow in the short-term. Meanwhile the Dallas/Ft. Worth-based carrier keeps its plans to phase out all of its Airbus A330-300s and 15 aging Boeing 767-300ERs by 2018.

All three major American carriers (Delta, United and American) are Airbus A350 customers, with United as the largest customer with firm orders for 35 A350-1000s. The first A350-1000 is scheduled to fly later this year and enter service in 2017 with Qatar Airways. Meanwhile, Delta Air Lines placed an order in November 2014 for 25 A350-900s. Delta is scheduled to take delivery of its first A350 beginning in the second quarter of 2017, though delivery issues with the A350s could push this.

American, and other U.S. carriers are facing a deterioration of revenue growth, attributed to the capacity growth in Asia and Europe, a stronger U.S. Dollar and a weak macroeconomic scenario, particularly in Latin America, where American Airlines has a major presence.

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