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An American E175 at SLC (Photo by Ryan Ewing)

American Airlines Places Orders For Two Sets of Regional Aircraft

American Airlines announced two orders for small jets to serve regional routes which have less demand and do not require mainline aircraft. The airline signed an order for 15 Embraer E175 aircraft bringing up the total ordered E175 aircraft to 89 and also signed an order for 15 new Bombardier CRJ900 jets.

The multiple orders for these jets continue to solidify American’s strong business need for jets that seat 76 passengers in a 12 seat first class and 64 seat economy class configuration. The CJR900s will feature an “Atmosphere” cabin which offers an enhanced passenger experience with features such as enhanced overhead bins, seats, lighting, and lavatories.

The cabin enhancements should allow for the aircraft to be on par with E175 jets that already offer a comfortable flying experience.

The E175 jets will be operated by Envoy, a subsidiary of American Airlines Group. While the CRJ900s will be flown by PSA airlines, also an American Airlines Group subsidiary.

The interesting thing here is that while American Airlines is working towards having a consistent fleet across larger aircraft it is still planning on flying two different regional jet fleets.

Fleet Consistency

Earlier in the year the airline announced a massive order for the Boeing 787 aircraft and snubbed the legacy US Airways order of Airbus A350 aircraft. The major reasoning behind this was that the airline already operated B787 aircraft and it wouldn’t make sense to introduce a new aircraft type.

A consistent fleet allows for greater efficiencies for an airline. It doesn’t need to many pilots rated for different equipment, spare parts can be easier to stock and mechanics will have an easier time repairing aircraft that are consistent.

As an added bonus, when aircraft need to be swapped out there is less chance of involuntarily denied boarding if seating configurations are consistent. This was something JetBlue had considerable trouble with resulting in huge numbers of passengers who were denied boarding due to plane swaps.

This kind of efficiency can be seen at Southwest and Ryanair which all operate just one type of aircraft, the Boeing 737. While American Airlines is moving towards building a consistent fleet across larger aircraft, these smaller regional aircraft still operate as two distinct fleets.

It could likely just be that the two subsidiaries that will take delivery of these aircraft already have existing large fleets of the same type of aircraft. It potentially is just too much work to try to consolidate aircraft type when seating configuration will generally remain the same and the aircraft are operated by wholly different operators.

Hemal Gosai
Hemal Gosai
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