US Airways and American Airlines aircraft pass each other at Ronald Reagan National Airport in Virginia, the US. Picture: REUTERS
US Airways and American Airlines aircraft pass each other at Ronald Reagan National Airport in Virginia, the US. Picture: REUTERS

Chicago — American Airlines Group has ordered 47 Boeing 787 Dreamliners for long-range flying, dealing a blow to Airbus’s ambitions to expand its wide-body aircraft sales in the US.

In a related move, American Airlines cancelled an order for 22 of Airbus’s twin-aisle A350 jets, a purchase placed by predecessor carrier US Airways, according to a statement.

The Boeing deal is worth a total of $12.3bn before customary discounts.

The move underscores the difficulty Airbus has faced in the US — the largest aviation market and a Boeing stronghold. The Dreamliner deal marks the second time in 2018 that Boeing has convinced an Airbus wide-body customer in the US to switch to the 787.

Hawaiian Airlines, the sole customer for Airbus’s A330-800, decided in March to order 10 Dreamliners instead.

Adding more of the fuel-efficient Boeing aircraft will allow American Airlines to simplify its fleet and shed some of its oldest long-range jets.

Bloomberg had first reported on March 23 that American Airlines had ruled out a competing Airbus bid for the A330neo.

"This was a difficult decision between the Boeing 787 and the Airbus A350 and A330neo," Robert Isom, American’s Airlines president, said in the statement. "In the end, our goal to simplify our fleet made the 787 a compelling choice."

With the plan, American Airlines will reduce the number of wide-body aircraft types it flies to three from five, reducing maintenance and training costs. American Airlines previously said the number of A350s it had ordered was too small for it to operate profitably.

American Airlines already plans to shed another small fleet of 20 Embraer SA E190 jets. American had delayed taking the A350s in 2016 and 2017. The deal includes 22 787-8s, the smallest member of the jet family, and 25 of the 787-9 variant — more than doubling American Airlines’s fleet of Dreamliners, Boeing’s most advanced aircraft. All of the new 787s will be powered with General Electric’s GEnx-1B engines.

The 787-8s will begin arriving in 2022, followed a year later by the first of the 787-9s. American Airlines will use the planes to replace ageing Boeing 767-300s and, later, its Airbus A330-300s and the oldest of its Boeing 777-200s.

American Airlines also deferred delivery of 40 Boeing 737 Max narrow-body planes to between 2025 and 2026.

The aircraft were originally scheduled to arrive in 2020-2022.