Passengers on American Airlines' shorter routes are going to see a bit more comfort in the coming months. The carrier has announced the latest update to their bankruptcy restructuring, adding more than 50 new larger regional jets to their fleet. The Embraer 175 jets will seat 76 passengers, 12 in first class and 64 in economy. These planes also have a larger interior than the other regional jets flying under the American Eagle brand, allowing for larger carry-on bags, more head room, and generally a more comfortable passenger experience. The planes will be introduced into the American schedule at a rate of 2-3 per month over through early 2015.
The fleet update is the latest in a series of moves American has made recently as they prepare to emerge from bankruptcy. The carrier also introduced a new livery (reviews have been mixed) and has taken delivery of their newest flagship aircraft, the Boeing 777-300ER. They are also upgrading their in-flight service offerings and generally looking to make travel a better experience for their customers. These new aircraft will help in those efforts.
Adding these planes to the fleet was part of a compromise reached between American Airlines and their pilots during the recent contract negotiations. The deal allows for American to outsource operations of these larger jets to a subcontractor. In this case the flights will be operated by Republic Airlines, a subsidiary of Republic Airways Holdings. Republic is already operating other aircraft for American Airlines so this introduction and integration is expected to proceed reasonably smoothly.
American faces many challenges in the coming months. They are actively negotiating with US Airways on a potential merger and working to get over the remnants of the operational difficulties they had in late 2012 as a result of their pilot contract negotiations. These latest moves should help the carrier to move forward in those efforts, making passenger comfort a higher priority in their operations.
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