American Airlines to complete Boeing 737 retrofits by early 2021

American Airlines continues to proceed with the aircraft return. Accelerating the retrofits of ground-mounted jets, the airline expects the Boeing 737 retrofits to be completed by early 2021 and the Airbus A321 to be completed thereafter.

American Airlines is withdrawing its Boeing 737s, which will be completed by early 2021. Photo: Getty Images

Proceed with aircraft retrofits

Back in May, Simple Flying reported that American Airlines was rolling out “Full Steam Forward” with its 737 and A321 retrofits. The airline had parked hundreds of jets, and later instead of the interrupted schedule, and it made sense for American Airlines to proceed with the aircraft’s retrofits. Both are undergoing jet cabin densification project.

The new timeline announced by US Chief Financial Officer Derek Kerr in the airline’s third quarter earnings call is as follows:

We continue to pursue harmonization of our 737 and A321 fleets and expect all of our 737 aircraft to operate in the same configuration by the end of the first quarter of 2021. We expect our A321 fleet to harmonize by the spring of 2022. . “

American Airlines
The Airbus A321s are also getting denser. Photo: Vincenzo Pace |

Why retrofits matter to the airline

Retrofits are expensive for the airline. However, even in the midst of a depressed travel environment, it makes sense from a future cost and operational standpoint. First and foremost, it reduces inefficiencies. Having two configurations, the two identical Boeing 737-800s differ from operating externally. If American needs to swap, it may mean booting up at a cost to some customers.

Once the Boeing 737 MAX provides commercial service, American’s 737-800s will also feature the same configuration on the inside as the 737 MAX 8s.

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American Airlines plans to fly the 737 MAX between Miami and New York from December. Photo: Getty Image

In addition, dense configuration means more opportunities to earn additional revenue. As more and more people are ready to fly again, most people are booking in the back of the aircraft. With more coach seats available, American could then offer additional capacity and expect to gain some additional revenue, which would then strengthen the airline’s financial position.

How is the new interior?

The older Airbus A321 is being retrofitted to a 190-seat configuration. Previously, these aircraft had either 181 or 187 seats, depending on where they came from. After the merger, American and US Airways Airbus A322 had two different onboard configurations.

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The merger with American Airways brought a lot of American A321s. Photo: Getty Image

In retrofitted aircraft, 20 of these seats are recursive style with the first 2-2 configuration. After that, there are 29 main cabin additional seats and 141 main cabin seats. While these aircraft lack seatback screens, they will at least be equipped with WiFi, so that passengers can watch entertainment on their devices. This upgrade will give passengers more space in the seat-seat power outlets as well as the overhead box.

The 737-800s are moving to a 172-seat configuration, consistent with the 737 Max.

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American has over 300 Boeing 737-800s. Photo: Getty Image

Previously, these aircraft were equipped with 160 seats. On retrofitted aircraft, there are 16 recliner-style first class seats and 30 main cabin extra seats – 160-seat 738 numbers. However, the standard economy becomes denser with 126 economy class seats, up from 114. To accommodate seat pitch and these additional seats in all cabin sections the width of the toilet has been reduced.

Not all 737s can be retrofitted. If the American decides to cut some aircraft from its fleet, it makes sense to dispose of old 737s that have not yet been removed. This will also reduce the future capital expenditure of the airline.

Overall, what do you think the American Airlines 737 retrofit continues? Tell us in the comments!

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