It is rather amazing that up until today, no US-based airline has ordered the Boeing 777-300ER. Even though nearly all the legacy US airlines (exceptions Northwest and US Airways) bought the 777, the US 777 fleet has not included the larger model.
Today American announced it has exercised options for two -300ERs. Delivery is set for late 2012. We have heard that American might consider up to 20 of these models. Interestingly American mentions slot-constrained airports as one of the reasons they are acquiring the airplane. That gives you an idea where these airplanes are likely to be seen first.
Boeing is rightly proud of this aircraft. As they point out at every opportunity: “The Boeing 777-300ER is 19 percent lighter than its closest competitor. It produces 22 percent less carbon dioxide per seat and costs 20 percent less to operate per seat.” Among most analysts the consensus is that the 777-300ER is the benchmark long-range twin airliner.
The selection of this airplane by American is clearly to support its growing alliance connections. American’s decision is a good one because a large aircraft with such attractive economics and proven performance will add to both the airline and its alliance’s fleet. It’s a wonder this has not happened before.
What really puzzles me is why United never upgraded to this model?
Aurora, I have wondered the same thing. One answer may be UA/Cont’l may now be interested in the -300ER because the circumstances which caused Glen Tilton to reject the -300ER and “old technology” have changed. When he ordered the A359s to replace 747s, the airline industry was in horrible shape. No one was flying because of the economic crash, so operataing all those 747s with only a few passengers was ruinous and the future looked bleak. It made sense to lock in a super efficient replacement that was much smaller.
Since then, things have gotten much better for the industry, UA and Cont’l have merged, Tilton is gone, it is clear that the -300ER is not “old tech,” it is the “Only Available Tech” in its mkt segment, and lots of those 747s are still around needing to be replaced a lot faster than AB can deliver the A359s.
I wonder also if AA’s -300ER deal is related to 789 delays. Are they a form of cheap compensation? What has happened to AA’s 789 order? Did they ever work it out with their pilots?
Christopher, to the best of my knowledge, AA’s order has not been finalized, although my good friend who flies for AA insists the order is a done deal. Last I heard, the negotiations with the pilots continues. One wonders if they’ll ever come to terms?