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Fleet Upgrades And Commonality

Fri Sep 10, 1999 8:21 am

Now, airlines are dramatically upgrading their fleet. Most are going exclusively with either Boeing (AA, CO, DL) or Airbus (US). But some are using both companies for their new aircraft, either short-haul from one and long-haul from the other (UAL), or mix-matched all over the place (SQ, TWA). For the airlines using both companies, I thought that airlines wouldn't want to do this for fleet commonality reasons, such as crew training and replacement parts. A look at some of the US airlines:

TWA: Ordered both B717s and A318s. This seems a bit odd, ordering such a large aircraft from both companies.

Continental: Ordering all aircraft from Boeing, including NG737s, 777s, and 767-400s

Delta: Ordering NG737s, had plans to order 777s (we all know that story!), and 767-400s. So they are going with Boeing.

US Airways: The only US airline going exclusively with Airbus. Ordering A320/A319s for their shorthaul aircraft. A330s coming on line later this year. Do you think the A321 could find a place in this airline's fleets?

United: One of the one going with both. Going with Airbus for shorthaul, and going with 777s for longhaul.

American: Boeing. NG737s and 777s

Northwest: Does anyone know what is happening with NW? They have made no announcements on major fleet plans.

So, this pretty much sums up the US airlines. The question still stands: is fleet commonality important. Why/why not? If so, why are airlines like SQ ordering A330s/A340s/777s?

Your comments welcomed!

Fly US Airways
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RE: Fleet Upgrades And Commonality

Fri Sep 10, 1999 8:37 am

Northwest is going with A320's for sure for dmestic travel. I don't know if they are planning to upgrade their long-haul aircraft in the near future. They might be getting A319's, but I'm not sure
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RE: Fleet Upgrades And Commonality

Fri Sep 10, 1999 8:40 am

Northwest has A319's. They have ordered a bunch of them. They also have some A330's with PW engines on order.
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RE: Fleet Upgrades And Commonality

Fri Sep 10, 1999 9:26 am

Not that it really matters, but as an investor in (but not an employee of) Southwest Airlines Co I wonder why you omitted the 4th largest passenger-carrying airline in the country and then said "well, that wraps it up for the major U.S. Airlines..."

At any rate, nothing much has changed over there. They are looking at adding up to 200 B737NGs (all 700s so far) over the next 4 or 5 years. They have 50 coming from now until the end of 2000...with possible options to receive a total of 74 next year.

Despite rumors, WN is not planning to add either 757s or RJs to their all B737 fleet (of over 300 a/c)

Sorry TxAgKuwait

Fri Sep 10, 1999 9:32 am


Sorry for ommiting SWA. When I was thinking about this post, I was thinking about the commonality of long-haul and short-haul aircraft. Since SWA doesn't operate long-haul routes and operates all 737s (now theres commonality) it didn't really fit my topic, which was fleet commonality and not just upgrade fleet programs.

Sorry about that,
Fly US Airways

RE: Fleet Upgrades And Commonality

Fri Sep 10, 1999 11:26 am

From my perspective, it would be nice to see UAL move to a five model fleet: 737NG, 747, 757, 767, 777, eventually phasing out the 747s and replacing them with 777-300 extended range models, when they come out. A four type fleet would cut maintenance and training costs so much.

Oh, well. Back to reality. It's unfortunate that it will never happen. After all, these days, 2 out of the Big 3 have European aircraft in their fleet. Something as wonderful and practical as an all-Boeing fleet here seems too good to be true.

Burlingame, California
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RE: Fleet Upgrades And Commonality

Fri Sep 10, 1999 2:03 pm

NWA is getting the A319(50 of them), quite soon I believe. They also have had A330's on order for quite a while but they keep deferring delivery dates so who know's what's going on in the widebody dept for them
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RE: Fleet Upgrades And Commonality

Fri Sep 10, 1999 7:41 pm

Someone last month had a great point about commonality when comparing similiar aircraft, i.e 737-600/700/800/900 or A318/19/20/21. The airline can swap planes around on particular days to match capacity. Fly from point A to B on Monday with 700, Tuesday with a 600 etc. This allows the crews to stay the same.

The same could be said for the wide-bodies, but I don't believe most airlines use the same pilots to fly narrow body and wide bodies. I agree that some savings are possible in reduced training, but with the bigger airlines, this goes away as you need the same amount of simulators and teachers. Smaller airlines like Swiss Air can make use of commonality in aircraft.

Finally, I believe that the airlines are buying the best airlplane for their need. This is why new models (i.e. 757-300, 767-400, A330-200) are being built. The market for a 4 engine 300 passenger plane is limited, so why should Boeing builds its own? Each builder will have its own niche markets as some are too small to justify both makers building both.
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NW A330's?

Sat Sep 11, 1999 4:48 pm

I thought someone told me that they turned down the orders for the A330. Maybe I am thinking of TWA.
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Sat Sep 11, 1999 10:05 pm

When is NWA going to get it's A330s? They seem to have been on order for an extremeny long time, now USAirways is going to be the first 330 operator in the states.
« On ne voit bien qu'avec le cœur. L'essentiel est invisible pour les yeux » Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
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Air Canada Upgrades

Sat Sep 11, 1999 11:41 pm

By the looks of it, Air Canada is moving towards an all-airbus fleet. I think they are retiring their DC-9's by april first due to stage III requirements, (I don't know of any plans to hush-kit them). They are being replaced with A319's, (They already have 35 of them). They have 34 A320's. THey have several a340's with more on order. And they have several A330's on order. Of course they will still have their 767's and 747 combi's. And of course they have the CRJ. I think they were expressing an interest in the A3XX, but I'm not sure.
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RE: Fleet Upgrades And Commonality

Sun Sep 12, 1999 3:04 am

The reason why UA chose the Airbus (19 & 20) over the NG737 is because of customer preference. The "bus" is much more comfortable than the 737. I have flown on both. And about commonality, the 19s and 20s can be mix-matched, as that is what UA does, since there is 100% commonality for the pilots (besides aircraft length & # of OW exits).
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Sun Sep 12, 1999 3:10 am

That's a good question about NW's A330's which have been on order for years. I haven't heard anything about them actually receiving these A330's but in the meantime they have been getting A320 family aircraft left and right. I doubt Airbus would hold them to the A330 contract if NW chooses to get more A320 class aircraft instead. I would like to see NW get 777's to replace their large DC10-30/40 fleet instead of A340's. The 777's would have better performance and more cargo capability which is a big deal to NW.
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RE: Fleet Upgrades And Commonality

Mon Sep 13, 1999 6:45 am

Does anyone know when Lanchile will take delivery of its A320 A319 A\C.?


About A321

Tue Sep 14, 1999 2:07 am

Airbus is rolling out a longer range A321 capable of making US east-west coast routes (the #1 reason there are none of this type in the US). UA and America West are probably going to be the customers of the type, in some instances replacing the migthy 757s....Expect also an order from US Airways...
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RE: Fleet Upgrades And Commonality

Tue Sep 14, 1999 4:19 am

I think fleet commonality is very important. It reduces the operating cost significantly. However, some airlines buy from both manufacturers as a leverage to get better deals from both of them.

Also, from a plane spotter's point of view, fleet commonality is a bad thing, don't you think? Imaging a major airports filled with just one or two types of airliners. What fun would that be?

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