American Airlines is already the worlds largest operator of the A319, an aircraft that in many ways has dropped out of fashion with most airlines .
With 133 in-service aircraft it has the largest pilot and cabin crew pool of experience with the type.
It therefore makes sense to look for used aircraft to expand the total rather than pay for new aircraft – at present the order book for the Neo version hasn’t even reached 100 aircraft. On top of that delays in getting them will stretch for years, as it’s the A320/321 that take up the vast bulk of Airbus production.
There is also a sizeable pool of older A319’s leaving ten year leases and being replaced with A320neo’s. Many airlines from easyJet to Eurowings are dropping the type in favour of larger more efficient aircraft, creating choice and options for American to pick the best.
While they haven’t said how many, it’s expected they’ll go for around 30 over a couple of years.
Not introducing a new type of aircraft means familiarity for crews, airports and importantly, no need to change routes, ticketing or management of the aircraft.
Used aircraft from short haul are often cheaper by as much as 80% or more than new. First choices are those with fewer landing cycles on the clock, but even those on the high side make sense if the price is right.
Higher cycles and low prices are ideal for aircraft placed on longer flights – reducing the acquired cycles and stretching the operational life span.
There is of course a downside. The environmental emissions cost of using older engines and heavier less efficient aircraft. But this is American Airlines and costs are only financial in their minds. In some ways the cost of producing a new aircraft can be as bad for the environment, but over the lifetime of the aircraft, the looser of this policy is the climate.