By Kyle Arnold
The Dallas Morning News
American Airlines is parking its remaining Airbus A330-200 aircraft for the next two years, showing just how bad the industry’s international travel forecast is for not just 2020, but next year as well.
More than half of American’s 900 plane fleet is already grounded as travel demand has dropped to less than 10% of historic levels. Thousands of flights have been canceled too.
The A330-200s were important for U.S. to Europe flying for Fort Worth-based American.
“Given the current depressed forecast for international demand and no opportunities to profitably use the fleet domestically, we have made the difficult decision to place all of our A330-200 aircraft in long term storage until at least 2022,” said a letter from American Airlines vice president of flight operations Kimball Stone.
The airline has already decided to retire about 100 older jets including the Boeing 757 fleet, Boeing 767 fleet and its older Airbus A330-300 jets. Many of those jets are older and less fuel-efficient models, being traded out for planes such as the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and the 737 Max, which is grounded by the FAA but expected to be back later this year.
The airline is also retiring its Embraer E190 planes and Bombardier CJR200 planes.
All those planes were expected to be finished in the near future, but retirements were accelerated because demand is so low right now that the airline would rather fly planes with better gas mileage.
The new A330-200 grounding is different. Those plans were bought between 2009 and 2014, legacy jets from the old U.S. Airways airline, which was heavy on Airbus planes.
The A330 is a staple of transcontinental travel, with 247 seats.
American Airlines CEO Doug Parker told employees on a call this week that international demand is the weakest.
“The International Network for certain will be hit more than the domestic network,” Parker said. “That’s where demand is going to come back even more slowly.”
Parker also said the airline is looking at a longer downturn than just 2020.
“We’re going to have fewer airplanes because there’s going to be much lower demand, not just in the next few months, but in the next couple of years,” Parker said.