American Airlines has ordered larger, longer-range Boeing 777 aircraft, giving the airline its first plane that could comfortably reach Australia from Los Angeles or Dallas.
The US carrier has 47 of the older and smaller 777-200ER variant, but the new 777-300ERs have an extra 300 km in the tank -- vital for safety margins on the long-range, transpacific runs from the US.
Boeing's commercial aircraft division head, Jim Albaugh, is understandably pleased about the move: "American is the first carrier in the United States to order the 777-300ER. These new airplanes will complement their large fleet of 777-200ERs offering additional flexibility in serving the nonstop routes, while providing increased efficiency and reliability."
Tom Horton, President of American's parent company AMR, specifically mentioned flights across the Pacific: "These additional wide-body aircraft will bolster our network strategy, particularly the international growth opportunities we expect from our joint businesses with oneworld partners in the transatlantic and transpacific markets."
While this is likely an initial reference to American's transatlantic joint venture with British Airways and Iberia, plus its transpacific deal with Japan Airlines, American also mentioned new long-haul markets.
"We value the combination of size, range and performance of the 777-300ER, as well as the extensive customer amenities it offers. The seating capability of the aircraft will give us growth flexibility in slot-constrained airports and provide us with greater ability to serve new long-haul markets," Horton said.
Australian Business Traveller reported on Qantas' new flights to Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) and new codeshare arrangements with American Airlines last week.
With Qantas and American Airlines applying for regulatory approval for closer ties, this could mean that the American side of that partnership could be flying to Australia.
"Alongside our entry into DFW, Qantas and American Airlines intend to deepen their existing relationship and will be seeking regulatory approval from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and other relevant authorities for this expanded commercial relationship," Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said.