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American Airlines defers deliveries, brings grounded planes out of storage

written by Hannah Dowling | April 14, 2021
A file image of American Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 N314RH. (Nathan Coats/Commons Wikimedia)
An American Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 (Nathan Coats/Commons Wikimedia)

American Airlines has deferred a number of its upcoming aircraft deliveries, while also reportedly bringing all of its fleet out of storage in preparation for an upswing of demand.

The major US airline has reportedly organised a revised delivery schedule with Boeing for 37 of its upcoming aircraft deliveries, including 18 737 MAX jets that were originally slated for delivery this year and next, which the airline now hopes to welcome to its fleet in 2023 and 2024.

Meanwhile, 14 of the Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners expected to be delivered to American this year will now instead be delivered in Q1 2022.

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Additionally, American has also converted five of its 787-8 Dreamliner orders to the larger variant, the 787-9, with deliveries expected in 2023.

Simultaneously, an internal memo sent to staff suggests that American will also be bringing all of its grounded aircraft out of storage, and preparing them to re-enter regular passenger service ahead of the summer travel season.

According to a memo sent by the airline’s chief information officer Maya Leibman, American has seen a significant upswing in future bookings, almost matching 2019 levels.

The memo also reportedly highlighted that the last week alone has been the airline’s largest days for revenue since the beginning of the pandemic, and the airline achieved 80 per cent load factor on domestic flights last week.

With all this positive news, the airline is preparing for a meaningful return of demand for air travel throughout the crucial summer season, and plans to return all its aircraft to service by the end of next month.

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“These are stats we haven’t seen in a year,” Liebman said in the staff memo.

“And all I’m hearing from my friends and family are their travel plans for this summer — you probably are too. It feels like there’s this incredible pent-up demand to GO SOMEWHERE!”

The airline told CNN that staff are taking thousands of hours to reinstate grounded planes to service, due to the need for excessive inspections.

Along with all this, the airline announced it finally returned to cash flow positive in March on an adjusted basis, largely driven by a strong surge in domestic travel demand throughout March.

The airline said that its ‘cash flow positive’ status excludes its regular payments of $8 million per day towards debt and severance packages.

American also said it is forecasting an annual decline in passenger figures of 62 per cent, and anticipates it will post an annual loss of around $2.8 billion, excluding any federal financial aid.

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