June 30 (Bloomberg) -- AMR Corp.’s American Airlines is discussing an order of as many as 280 new narrow-body jets, a deal that may set an industry record, in talks with Airbus SAS and Boeing Co., two people with knowledge of the matter said.
The negotiations involve a purchase in a range of 250 to 280 planes, said the people, who asked not to be identified because details are private. Bloomberg News reported last week that American was studying whether to buy at least 100 Airbus jets in a shift from the airline’s longtime reliance on Boeing.
Buying 280 planes would be a transaction of at least $22.6 billion at list prices, based on the $80.8 million retail value of the Boeing 737-800, which costs less than the Airbus A320 or the upgraded A320neo. Airlines pay discounted prices.
An American order would bolster Toulouse, France-based Airbus’s quest to persuade a Boeing-only airline to defect. Keeping the third-largest U.S. airline is important for Boeing because the Chicago-based planemaker can’t afford to lose customers while deciding on a successor to the 737, the world’s most widely flown jetliner.
AirAsia Bhd. set the mark for the largest single plane purchase with an agreement last week at the Paris Air Show to buy 200 A320neos. The Malaysian airline’s deal topped a contract from India’s IndiGo for 180 Airbus jets.
AMR’s board may decide on new planes as soon as next month, people familiar with the matter said last week.
Andy Backover, a spokesman for Fort Worth, Texas-based American, declined to comment, as did Boeing’s Marc Birtel in Seattle and Airbus’s Mary Anne Greczyn in Herndon, Virginia.
“We’re having good conversation” with American, Marlin Dailey, Boeing’s sales chief, said last week in an interview at the Paris show, while declining to elaborate. “We’re making good progress. We’re optimistic that it’ll play out well.”
American’s main jet fleet of 613 planes now consists only of Boeings, after its last Airbus aircraft, the twin-aisle A300, went out of active service in 2009.
The airline said its most-common plane type is the Boeing MD-80, with 216. A workhorse on American’s domestic routes, the MD-80 went out of production in 1999 and is being phased out of the carrier’s fleet in favor of 737-800s, which are 25 percent more fuel efficient.
American began receiving deliveries in 2009 on an order of 130 737-800s that will be completed by 2013.
The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that American’s talks on a plane order would be for 250 jets.
--With assistance from Andrea Rothman in Paris and Ed Dufner in Dallas. Editors: Ed Dufner, Kevin Miller
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