AMR Nears Fleet Changes

In 2009, it will receive three 737-800s from Boeing.
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AMR

(AMR)

, the parent of American Airlines, says it's nearly ready to begin taking new jet deliveries.

The world's biggest carrier said that in 2009 it will receive three 737-800s from

Boeing

(BA) - Get Report

as it begins to replace its aging MD-80 fleet. The new planes consume 25% less fuel per available seat-mile.

Additionally, American is talking with Boeing about an order for the 787 Dreamliner. "We believe it is a perfect airplane for American, and we are looking forward to the conclusion of negotiations," says Boeing spokesman Randy Harrison.

Under the terms of its contract with Boeing, American can "pull forward" delivery of 47 Boeing 737-800s. The three 2009 planes were previously scheduled for delivery in 2016. The carrier said it will likely move additional deliveries to the 2009 to 2012 time frame.

"Our existing agreement with Boeing gives us ample flexibility for our long-term fleet plan," said CEO Gerard Arpey in a prepared statement. He said American can buy additional 737s on short notice and has "the right to purchase 787 aircraft."

American spokesman Andy Backover declined to elaborate on a potential 787 order. "You can assume that widebody production times would be longer," he said. "But we are not getting more specific about delivery time frames."

Harrison said that after the Sept. 11 attacks, the contract with American was rewritten so as to allow the carrier to defer deliveries to the 2013 to 2016 time frame. To accelerate that schedule, American has to notify Boeing.

Scott Hamilton, who publishes an online newsletter about aircraft manufacturers, says Boeing can provide major customers with deliveries as needed, even when other customers may have to wait longer for deliveries of sought-after aircraft like the 787.

"What Boeing does is to reserve delivery slots for customers such as American," he says, "or they will overbook sales in anticipation that there will be some cancellations."