American Airlines places its biggest plane order in more than a decade

NEW YORK, March 4 (Reuters) – American Airlines (AAL.O), opens new tab on Monday unveiled its biggest plane order since 2011, buying 260 new jets from Airbus (AIR.PA), opens new tab, Boeing (BA.N), opens new tab and Embraer (EMBR3.SA), opens new tab as it looks to increase earnings by capitalizing on booming demand for premium travel.

The deal includes 85 Airbus A321neo jets, 85 Boeing 737 MAX 10s and 90 Embraer E175 aircraft. The order also includes options and purchase rights for an additional 193 aircraft.

“(Travel) demand is back,” American Airlines’ CEO, Robert Isom, told an investor conference.

The order is also a big boost for Boeing, which has been under fire since a Jan. 5 incident when a door plug blew off a 737 MAX plane in mid-flight, exposing frightened passengers to the outside air.

This is American’s first-ever order for the MAX 10, the largest variant of Boeing’s best-selling single-aisle 737 MAX planes.

The aircraft has yet to be certified by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The Jan. 5 incident has raised new doubts over its certification.

American’s chief financial officer, Devon May, said the order reflects the airline’s confidence in Boeing, adding it offers fleet flexibility to the company as it provides an alternative to its Airbus A321 planes.

Its first MAX 10 plane is due for delivery in 2028. But if delivery is delayed, the company has negotiated with Airbus for sufficient options, he said. The Texas-based airline also has options to convert those orders into MAX 8 or MAX 9.

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