American Defers 37 Boeing Jets as Post-Pandemic Recovery Continues

American Airlines Group (NASDAQ:AAL) has worked out a revised delivery schedule with Boeing (NYSE:BA), deferring 37 jets as it seeks to ride out a drop in travel demand due to the pandemic.

American in a regulatory filing said that eighteen 737 MAX jets originally expected to be delivered this year and in 2022 will instead arrive in 2023 and 2024. It is also pushing back delivery on a number of 787 Dreamliners. Fourteen 787-8 airplanes expected to be added to the fleet this year will instead arrive by the end of the first quarter of 2022, and an additional five aircraft will be converted to a different version of the 787 for delivery in 2023.

An American 737 sits on the tarmac.

Image source: American Airlines.

American and other airlines are rethinking their fleet needs after a miserable 2020 in which the industry saw travel demand dry up due to COVID-19. Travel has slowly come back in recent months as the vaccine rollout has progressed, but American in the filing said it still expects to report a substantial loss in the recently completed first quarter.

International travel, which is the primary use of the 787 Dreamliner, is expected to take significantly longer to recover than domestic. And American and other airlines loaded up with additional debt last year to survive the crisis, making carriers ill prepared to take on a large number of new jets right now.

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The news comes on the same day that Boeing said it delivered nineteen 737 MAX planes in March, including eleven to U.S. carriers. Boeing also met its goal to resume deliveries of the Dreamliner before quarter’s edge, delivering two of the planes after a temporary suspension to work through some potential issues with its carbon fiber frame.

Boeing also reported 29 net commercial orders for the month, all for 737 MAX planes. Airbus (OTC:EADSY), by comparison, delivered 60 planes in March but only had 20 net orders for the month.

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