Generally, when an airline orders an airplane, it pays a deposit when the order is made. Then, it has to pay additional money, when the manufacturer starts to assemble the airplane on the production line. The balance is due upon delivery.
I don't know the exact percentage of a purchase price that is due at each payment, but I'm sure AA
could get Boeing to agree to the smallest deposit possible.
As an AMR shareholder, I don't want AA
to make the opposite mistake that it made, when it ordered the MD
was so anxious to get long-range aircraft that it went with the MD
-11, because it would be available before the 777. If AA
had been patient, it could have had 777s in 1995 or 1996.
Remember, too, that AA
has a much larger cash position than CO
, both of who have ordered the 787.
As for the MD
-80s, according to a friend of mine, who is a pilot with AA
, the MD
-80s still have a lot of time on their airframes. The problem is that the MD
-80s require C-checks more frequently than the 727. One reason that AA
held on to the 727s for so long is that, despite the cost of flying a 3-engine plane with an F/E, they were very easy and inexpensive to maintain.
-80s are much cheaper to fly, but the cost of keeping them maintained is starting to get a bit pricey.