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As I hope you have noticed, in recent years we have been engaged in a gradual transformation of the American Airlines fleet. With the help of our longtime partner Boeing, we have been replacing our older, less-fuel-efficient ?MD-80 aircraft (long the workhorses of our domestic fleet) with new Boeing 737s. In 2009 and 2010 we took delivery of 76 737s, and we have plans to add 54 more of those aircraft by the end of 2013. We also have orders for 15 Boeing 777 wide-body aircraft to be delivered between 2012 and 2016. And, we plan to acquire 42 state-of-the-art Boeing 787 Dreamliners, to be delivered starting in late 2014, with options for 58 additional 787s.

That probably seems like a lot of airplanes — ?because it is! We have made important strides in building a newer, more efficient and more capable fleet of aircraft. And yet, we recently determined that to fulfill our ambitions for the future, we needed to do more, much more. Realizing that no one manufacturer could deliver the number and variety of aircraft we were looking for, we partnered with both Boeing and Airbus, and the net result was the largest aircraft order in the history of commercial aviation.

The deals we reached with Boeing and Airbus amount to a landmark event for American ?Airlines and indeed for our industry. While the space limitations of this column prevent me from going into a lot of detail, the Reader’s Digest version of this great news story is that in approximately five years, American Airlines will be operating the youngest and most fuel-efficient fleet among our U.S. airline peers.

American will acquire 460 narrow-body planes from the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 families of aircraft beginning in 2013 and going through 2022. Starting in 2017, we will become the first U.S. ?network airline to begin taking delivery of “next generation” narrow-body aircraft that will further accelerate our fuel-efficiency gains. Under the agreement with Boeing, we have additional firm orders or letters of intent for a total of 200 aircraft from the 737 narrow-body family. Turning to our agreement with Airbus, we will purchase a total of 260 Airbus aircraft from the A320 family.

These transactions represent an unprecedented? opportunity to replace our entire narrow-body fleet with new airplanes that will burn substantially less fuel — saving us a lot of money and enabling us to reduce our environmental impact — and provide our customers with interiors that are more modern, more stylish and more comfortable and that feature state-of-the-art amenities.

The dramatic transformation of the American Airlines fleet is going to yield tremendous benefits for our customers, our shareholders, our people and the communities we serve. We are certainly very fortunate to have both Boeing and Airbus standing beside us to meet our needs. But of course, the long list of airlines that have come and gone over the years reminds us that new airplanes do not guarantee success in our business. Day in and day out, we rise or fall based on the satisfaction of the customers we serve. Fortunately, we have a team that is second to none — a team that is devoted to our company and its customers — a team that has risen to challenge after challenge with extraordinary resilience and professionalism.

The unprecedented scale of our fleet transformation is a testament to the belief we have in our team — and importantly, in our belief in air travel. While we will always face challenges in the near term, we believe that aviation’s importance as a global economic and cultural catalyst will only grow in the years to come. We’re proud of our legacy and of the leading role we have always played in making the world a smaller, more connected, more peaceful place. With our new fleet plan, we intend to build on that role for many years to come.

Thank you for flying with us. Have a great trip!

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Gerard J. Arpey
American Airlines