The A300's were delivered in the late 80's through the early-mid 90's. Initially an order for 25 was placed which were leased. AA got these aircraft at a nearly fire-sale price because Airbus was trying to make inroads with airlines in North American were at the time almost all Boeing and MDC customers. Crandell went to Airbus, along with Fokker to show Boeing & MDC they didn't have to buy from them and a corner of the orders for AA, and a way get more favorable prices. The first 25 A300's came with unbelievable lease terms favorable for AA. If AA was unsatisfied with the A300's, they could return them on 30 days notice at no cost.
The A300's were initially deployed on routes at AA's new and rapidly expanding MIA hub. They flew many Caribbean, SJU, and Central America routes, as well as routes up and down the East Coast. AA was so happy with the 25 A300's they had, so they went and ordered another 10 that they bought.
Around the time of the A300 came online AA was beginning to receive the new 767-300's, these were deployed on the expanding Trans-Atlantic network, especially after AA got TWA's LHR routes. The airline industry took a nose-dive in the early '90's, around the Gulf War time and the ensuing recession. AA was shedding capacity...727-100's were being retired....then there was the decision about the widebody fleet. The choice was to return the leased A300's or retire older DC-10's. The choice was very close in terms of the numbers, and a little persuading by Airbus helped the deal along. Airbus offered for the skin replacement on AA's A300's at no charge so the aircraft would now match the other silver birds of the fleet, instead of the composite gray. The earliest of the DC-10's were retired in the mid-90's lasting through until the end of 2000.
A300's took over DC-10 flying down in the Caribbean. As AA's Latin America market and Trans-Atlantic markets grew in the mid-90's, AA converted some A300's over to be used in 3-Class Trans-Atlantic configuration. These were the only aircraft besides the 777's to have PTV's. They flew routes such as JFK/EWR/BOS - LHR. Other than those few in 3-Class, the A300's were confined to SJU & MIA. They've flown MIA-Eastern Seaboard. SJU-Eastern Seaboard, and Caribbean & Latin America since. AA did fly A300's on MIA-ORD at some point in the mid-90's. I really don't know if they ever flew MIA-DFW or not. However, these aircraft have never been based out of ORD or DFW.
This past winter, the A300's were pulled from Trans-Atlantic service. Of course AA lost one A300 near JFK last November. The media incorrectly mis-intepreted the end of A300 Trans-Atlantic service due to Flight 587. This actually was a planned move. Earlier in 2001, AA placed an order for 15 new 767-300ER's. 9 were to replace TWA's hodge-podge fleet of 763's, and the remaining 7 were meant to replace AA's Trans-Atlantic A300's, with the A300's being reconfigured to 2-Class and deployed with the others out of AA. The rational behind this move was to provide a consistent Trans-Atlantic product of 767's & 777's and to also reduce the need for ordering additional narrowbody aircraft for MIA & Caribbean flying in order to use resources elsewhere. Due to the capacity reductions after 9/11, AA had enough available 767's & 777's to pull the A300's from Trans-Atlantic service even without the additional order of 763's that was to delivered beginning in summer of 2002, which has now been reduced to 9 and deferred until Summer 2003. It should be noted that AA is only flying 767-300's and 777's across the pond currently. The other logic behind this move was the removal of a fleet sub-type. Currently there are A300's out or service, stored in the desert out in Roswell, NM. These were some of the Trans-Atlantic A300's that will return to service when the capacity is needed.
AA has no plans of retiring the A300's anytime soon. They are currently between 9-14 years old. Since they are mostly medium haul aircraft, they don't get anywhere near the number of cycles that the narrowbodies get. They will be around likely through the end of the decade. As said before, their cargo capacity is a very important reason for their use. What they carry below deck is just as important as what is on top. The 767 doesn't even come close to matching the cargo capacity of the A300-600R.