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American May Order Small Planes : Purchase Could Be Worth Up to $3.5 Billion, Report Says

From Associated Press

American Airlines is about to follow up last month’s order for up to $7.5 billion worth of McDonnell Douglas jets with the purchase of up to $3.5 billion more in smaller commuter airplanes from undisclosed manufacturers, a newspaper reported Monday.

An American spokesman, though, said the company has yet to make any decisions about commuter plane purchases.

The small commuter jets, which would seat about 100 passengers and together cost up to $2 billion, would fly under the American Airlines name, the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram reported.

Turboprop planes that seat 35 to 50 passengers and together cost up to $1.5 billion would be flown by American’s commuter airline subsidiaries that operate collectively as American Eagle, the newspaper said.

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Bob Baker, American’s senior vice president for operations, told the newspaper that the airline expects to order both types of aircraft within the next 30 to 45 days.

“We’d like them yesterday,” Baker said. “We are units short. We’d love to have 50 more airplanes Monday morning, simply because we have the chance to use them productively now. And there are some closing windows of opportunity.”

The story did not say what company might supply the new planes.

Called ‘Speculative’

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Baker was attending a daylong meeting Monday and was unavailable for comment, his secretary said.

Calls to Baker were referred to Al Becker, a corporate communications spokesman for American. Becker said reports about plans for airplane purchases are “speculative” and said that although American is reviewing its needs for new commuter airplanes, decisions about purchases have yet to be made.

American already operates a fleet of 475 airplanes. Last month, American ordered eight MD-11s with the option to buy an additional 42. MD-11s are long-range three-engine, wide-body jets that can carry 405 passengers and are designed to replace the older DC-10. American also took options on 100 MD-80s, smaller twin-jet planes designed to replace the Boeing 727.


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