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American Air Near $3-Billion Jet Purchase

From Associated Press

Just five weeks after announcing a potential $7-billion, 150-plane purchase, American Airlines appeared to be on the verge Thursday of a $3.09-billion deal with Dutch manufacturer Fokker for up to 150 more planes.

Analysts said the spending spree reflects American’s financial strength and strategy for modernizing its fleet and expanding its routes.

American announced Wednesday that it plans to spend $95 million to expand its corporate headquarters in Ft. Worth and is expected within the next few weeks to announce a location for a new $200-million maintenance facility to service its expanding fleet.

The company, which is the main business unit of AMR Corp., on Wednesday also distributed profit sharing of $121 million, or an average of $1,950 per employee.

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American spokesman Al Becker would not confirm the Fokker deal, but Fokker spokesman Bart van Veen said in Amsterdam: “We’re discussing the final minor details.”

Van Veen said American had 75 firm orders for Fokker’s 100-seat, F-100 twin-engine jet, with another 75 “very firm” options, giving the package a total value of about $3.09 billion.

American’s order--which has been under negotiation for five years--would be considered a crucial breakthrough for Fokker into the U.S. aviation market.

“All I can tell you is that we have had interest in Fokker airplanes along with others,” Becker said. “We are just not in a position at this point to say anything more about the Fokker airplane.”

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The F-100 is smaller than most domestic airplanes and is ideal for use on feeder routes of up to 1,100 nautical miles in a hub system.

On Feb. 7, American announced an agreement with McDonnell Douglas Corp. to buy eight long-range MD-11 wide-body jetliners with options for 42 more. The airline also took options on 100 MD-80s, a smaller McDonnell plane designed to replace the Boeing 727.

Analysts estimated the value of the deal at $7 billion.

American’s fleet of 478 planes already is one of the youngest in the industry at an average age of about 9.4 years, and Becker said the carrier plans to reduce the average to about 8.4 years by 1992. He said the company’s fleet would total more than 600 planes by 1991.

Last month, Donald J. Carty, the airline’s vice president for planning and finance, said American would spend about $10.5 billion through the end of 1993 to modernize its fleet.

Becker said most of the new airplanes would be used to expand American’s routes.


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