American Airlines becomes the first US airline to order new Airbus plane

  • American Airlines is ordering 50 new Airbus A321XLR planes.
  • The deal marks the first major U.S. carrier to purchase the European planes since their debut Monday.
  • American announced the deal at the Paris Air Show on Wednesday.

American Airlines has agreed to order 50 of Airbus’ longest-range, single aisle aircraft, a big endorsement for the planes that Boeing’s chief rival unveiled earlier this week.

The deal for the A321XLR jetliners, announced at the Paris Air Show on Wednesday, makes the Fort Worth-based airline the first major U.S. carrier to agree to buy the longest-range narrowbody plane Airbus now offers. Under the agreement, American will convert 30 of its orders for the smaller Airbus A321neo in favor of the longer-range model, and order an 20 additional A321XLRs.

The planes could replace some older aircraft like Boeing 757s. The new planes are aimed at longer routes where there aren’t enough travelers to support the expense of operating a larger twin-aisle jet.

American’s endorsement of the new Airbus planes comes as Boeing is mulling an all-new double-aisle plane targeting mid-range routes. Analysts had expected Boeing to unveil the new offering at the Paris Air Show. But hopes faded as the Chicago-based company has been hobbled by the crisis left by two fatal crashes of its best-selling 737 Max planes, which have been grounded since mid-March.

Boeing did win a surprise vote of confidence in the 737 Max during this year’s air show with a 200-plane order from British Airways’ parent International Consolidated Airlines Group, the first order for the beleaguered jets since they were grounded three months ago. IAG also ordered 14 Airbus XLR planes for its Iberia and Aer Lingus airlines.

Neither American Airlines nor Airbus would disclose the financial terms of the deal, but American Airlines president Robert Isom said the XLR will initially cost the airline more than the A321neo…

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