Picture of Thomas Horton
We’d love to hear what you think
about our airline and
our employees.
Please write to us at:

Want to sign up for free e-mail
notification of Tom Horton's column
or to see past columns?
Click here!
A LITTLE MORE than two years ago, my colleagues and I wanted to do something big and bold to put American on a flight path back to the top of the industry. As I’m sure you can appreciate, nothing reinvigorates an airline like new airplanes. A younger fleet invariably means lower fuel and maintenance costs, a better product for customers and attractive returns for our investors. And new aircraft lift the spirits of our team and demonstrate our confidence in a bright future.

The more we thought about it, the more we were convinced that we didn’t just want an airplane deal. We wanted a really big airplane deal — so big, in fact, that we needed to partner with the world’s two leading aircraft manufacturers, Boeing and Airbus, to make it happen.

The scale of the landmark agreements we reached with those two great companies in 2011 was audacious: 460 new airplanes, with options for hundreds more. It was the largest aircraft ­order in history, and it set in motion the complete transformation of the American fleet. Two years later, that transformation is kicking into high gear. We’ve been introducing new aircraft — including Boeing 737s and 777-300s — at a rate of about one per week, and I’m proud to say we have more new planes on the way than all of our U.S. competitors combined.

Last month, our fleet transformation entered a new phase as we launched our first-ever service featuring the Airbus A320 family of aircraft. Between now and 2017, we will take delivery of 130 current-generation Airbus A319 and A321 airplanes. Starting in 2017, we will add 130 ­A320neo aircraft, featuring next-generation engine technology.

As we rapidly usher new planes in and older planes out, we are building a fleet that is not only more capable but also more friendly to the environment. For instance, the A320 family of aircraft are quieter and up to 35 percent more fuel-­efficient than the aircraft they are replacing. Less fuel burned means fewer emissions, a great outcome for everybody — and, the next-­generation engine that Airbus is developing is going to be even more eco-friendly.

The newly acquired Airbus A319 is being put into service on domestic and international American Airlines routes as 2013 draws to a close.

We are executing our plan to build the best — and the most effective — fleet in the airline industry. That means delivering a comfortable, state-of-the-art travel experience for you, and it also means finding the right plane for each of the thousands of missions we complete each day. One of the great things about the A319 is its versatility. With 128 seats, it fits comfortably between American Eagle’s regional jets and the slightly larger Boeing 737s that American flies. The A319 is a nice fit — and a nice upgrade — for many of our domestic flights, and its first batch of missions includes flights between Dallas/Fort Worth and Cleveland, Memphis, Charlotte and Wichita. Just in time for ski season, in December we’ll begin flying A319s to Vail and Crested Butte, Colo., and to Jackson Hole, Wyo. With a range of more than 4,000 miles, the potential of this airplane is not confined to the U.S. In fact, next month we will launch A319 service between DFW and Bogota, Colombia.

We’re equally excited about the other member of the A320 family we’ll soon be introducing to the American fleet, the A321. A three-class airplane featuring, among other things, fully lie-flat seats in the First and Business Class cabins, the A321 will replace some of the older airplanes we currently fly between New York JFK and both Los Angeles and San Francisco in early 2014.

We couldn’t be more enthusiastic about the ongoing transformation of the American Airlines fleet, and I’d like to take this opportunity to salute and thank the people of both Airbus and Boeing for the skill and dedication that go into producing these state-of-the-art airplanes. You can rest assured that there is another incredibly dedicated and skilled team at American — not to mention millions of our customers — who can’t wait to discover everything our new airplanes can do.

Wherever — and whatever — you are flying today, I hope you have a great trip. Thanks for choosing American.

Signatureof Thomas Horton
Thomas W. Horton
Chairman & CEO
American Airlines