American Airlines orders 260 new narrow-body aircraft, including Boeing 737 MAX 10

American Airlines said Monday it has ordered 260 new narrow-body aircraft to continue building its fleet and expanding into domestic and international short-haul markets.

The order includes 85 Airbus A321neo aircraft, along with 90 Embraer E175 regional aircraft that will be used by wholly US-owned regional airlines.

The order also includes 85 new Boeing 737 MAX 10 aircraft, the largest version of Boeing's narrow-body aircraft. The MAX 10, along with the smaller model, the MAX 7, are still under development and have not yet been approved by regulators.

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American also said it will update its existing fleet of Airbus A319 and A320 aircraft with new interiors, larger overhead bins and power outlets at every seat. As part of the retrofit, American will increase the number of first class seats on those aircraft, adding four seats for a total of 12 on the A319, and four seats for a total of 16 on the A320.

The airline said it will use the aircraft from the new order to upgrade some domestic and short-haul routes to larger aircraft as it continues to expand in the domestic market, and to ensure it has more premium heavy aircraft in its fleet. The airline said the new aircraft is included in its current capacity plan.

“Over the past decade, we have invested heavily to modernize and simplify our fleet, which is the largest and youngest among U.S. airlines,” American Airlines CEO Robert Isom said in a statement. “These orders will continue to provide our fleet with newer, more efficient aircraft so that we can continue to offer the best network and operational reliability standard to our customers.”

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The airline said the 737 Max 10 order, in particular, will focus on bringing larger aircraft to some routes and adding more flexibility to the fleet.

The announcement comes a week after United Airlines, which ordered 277 MAX 10 aircraft, removed the plane from its fleet plans until at least 2026. Boeing has faced production and certification delays for the new plane, which are expected to continue as the planemaker faces increased regulatory scrutiny and works to shore up quality control practices after an Alaska Airlines 737 MAX 9 accident in January.

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No one was seriously hurt during the incident, which saw a panel come off the plane's fuselage as it took off from Portland, causing the cabin to rapidly repressurize. However, that was largely due to luck, according to investigators, who found that Boeing had likely failed to replace the bolts after the panel was removed during final assembly of the plane.

Despite frustrations over quality control and timelines, the MAX 10 is still eagerly awaited by a variety of airlines around the world. With American's announcement, the three major US airlines – American, United and Delta Air Lines – all have pending orders for the plane. Its operational parameters and capacity are expected to deliver strong profit margins for airlines, while it is expected to retain the overall reliability that has come to set the 737 apart for operators, including the MAX, apart from many of the high-profile issues that have occurred, such as the current one. Crisis for Boeing.

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RELATED: We got our first look at the Boeing 737 MAX 10 prototype

On the other end of the size spectrum, American said the Embraer E175 regional jets on its order will be used to upgrade regional airlines, allowing them to carry more capacity as US regional airlines retire their smaller 50-seat aircraft by 2030.

The E175s, which have 76 seats in the current American design, will make up the airline's entire regional fleet by the time the order is fully delivered, the airline said.

American has several regional airlines that operate flights on its behalf from smaller markets to its hubs, similar to most of the major carriers in the network. Among the regional airlines that operate for American, several are wholly-owned subsidiaries of the larger carrier: Envoy Air, Piedmont Airlines and PSA Airlines.

This request comes at a time when airlines are struggling to find enough aircraft to fill their fleet plans. Ongoing supply chain and production issues caused in part by the pandemic have increased demand for aircraft with order slots largely filled through the end of the decade.

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