American Airlines drop Airbus for huge Dreamliner order

Airbus left waiting in the wings as American Airlines cancel order so they can buy 47 Dreamliners

Perhaps it is simply that the Dreamliner has a better name than any other plane in the skies, but it is now single-handedly winning Boeing’s battle against Airbus.

American Airlines have just cancelled its purchase of 22 Airbus A350s in order to sign a deal with Boeing, valued at $12 billion, to buy 47 of the company’s 787 Dreamliners. And airlines rarely pay list price for orders.

American Airlines will fly 89 Dreamliners by 2023 – American Airlines Dreamliner Airbus
American Airlines will fly 89 Dreamliners by 2023 – American Airlines

The deal will come as blow to Airbus, which is still struggling to find a market for its double-decker A380. The France-based company has only just found a buyer for second-hand A380s that are less than 10 years old and John Leahy, the company’s CEO, said in January that the A380 project could be grounded if there were no new orders.

Emirates rescued the SuperJumbo just days after Leahy’s statement with an order, valued at $16bn, for 36 A380s – the largest purchase in four years.

A statement from American Airlines said: “As part of the strategy to simplify its fleet, American agreed with Airbus today to terminate its order for 22 A350s, which was originally placed by US Airways.”

22 787-8 Dreamliners are scheduled to begin carrying American’s passengers in 2020 and 25 787-9s should arrive in 2023. American intend to use the planes to replace their Boeing 767s, 777s, and Airbus A330s.

Once the orders have been delivered, American will own 89 Dreamliners.

Robert Issom, president of American Airlines, said: “We have two excellent partners in Boeing and Airbus and our relationship with both manufacturers goes back many years. Both offer specific aircraft that provide us with the right lift on specific missions across our global network.

“This was a difficult decision between the Boeing 787 and the Airbus A350 and A330neo and we thank both manufacturers for their aggressive efforts to earn more of American’s business.”

Dreamliners are considered to be the most efficient plane on the market. This impression has been consolidated by the launch of the 787-10 – the first of which was recently delivered to Singapore Airlines.

Airbus have struggled to find buyers for the largest plane in the world – Airbus Dreamliner American Airlines
Airbus have struggled to find buyers for the largest airliner in the world – Airbus

In contrast, Airbus are struggling to find buyers for the majority of their planes. The A380, or SuperJumbo, has struggled since its launch – just before the financial crisis of 2008 hit the travel industry like a bomb.

Boeing and Airbus are locked in a long, heated battle for sales. Both took different approaches to the future of air travel, with Airbus betting on more long-haul trips between international hubs. Boeing focused on increasing regional flights and, so far, it looks as if they are taking the pot.

On 6 March, Hawaiian Airlines cancelled an order for six A330-800neos so that they could go with 10 787-9 Dreamliners.

The response to the A350 has been muted. But the widebody aircraft recently picked up a win when 60 were ordered by Turkish Airlines earlier this month.

Singapore Airlines recently received the first 787-10 Dreamliner — Boeing Company Airbus American Airlines
Singapore Airlines recently received the first 787-10 Dreamliner — Boeing Company

Boeing’s Jumbo Jet – the 747 – is currently seeing a slow demise. First flown in 1970, now no American carriers have the first ever widebody plane in their fleet, although European and Asian airlines still use it for long-hauls.

“This new order is a powerful endorsement of the 787 family’s unique passenger appeal and unmatched ability to help airlines open new routes and grow profitably,” Boeing chief executive Kevin McAllister said in a statement on American’s order.

American and Boeing also reached a deal to defer the delivery of 40 737 narrowbody jets. These had been scheduled to arrive in American’s hangers between 2020 and 2022.

Boeing says it has more than 1,350 orders registered for the 787. Airbus has reported that it received 45 net orders in the first quarter of 2018, with a backlog of 7,189 airliners. It delivered 121 planes in that time.