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American Airlines Plans to Reduce Fleet, Keep Hubs

The carrier says it plans to emerge from the current crisis as a smaller and more nimble airline

May 10, 2020

American Airlines has announced that it is reducing its fleet by some 100 aircraft. The cuts include the entire 757, 767 and A330-300 and Embraer 190 fleet, as well as certain regional aircraft. The move comes as the airline makes plans to emerge from the current COVID-19 crisis as a smaller, more agile carrier.

According to Vasu Raja, senior vice president of strategy, having fewer aircraft types will reduce costs related to parts and tooling. It will also make the airline more nimble, enabling American to more easily move aircraft to respond to demand. Reducing fleet size is preferable, he said, to eliminating any of the airline’s hubs.  

“We do not plan for mass scaled hub closures; in fact, our hubs are a massive asset,” Raja said. American’s largest hub is Dallas/Fort Worth, while others are in Charlotte, New York, Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Philadelphia and Washington.

The announcement came during the airline’s first quarter earnings call April 30. As American’s CEO Doug Parker said on the call, “Capacity plans are severely complicated by the extreme uncertainty regarding the anticipated level of demand for air travel, not just for the next few months, but for the next few years. So we at American decided to err on the side of being smaller than we might like rather than larger.”