American shows off new fuel-efficient, leather-seated Airbus A319

Posted Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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There may be turbulence over the company’s pending merger, but inside an airport hangar Wednesday, employees of American Airlines showed off the newest addition to its fleet: the Airbus A319 — a decked-out, fuel-efficient aircraft with every seat clothed in leather.

One of three on the ground, the A319 will begin service Sept. 16, flying a maximum of 128 passengers from Dallas/Fort Worth Airport to Charlotte, N.C.; Cleveland; Memphis; and Wichita, Kan.

The plane ferries seven fewer passengers than the MD-80s that it will gradually replace, but spokesman Matt Miller said fuel cost is a whopping 35 percent less per seat. The A319 is 12 percent more fuel efficient than the Boeing 757 and 15 percent better than the 767-200.

Aviation industry consultant Mike Boyd figures that the A319 will save about $600 an hour in fuel — a total savings of about $1,000 if maintenance is added. Flying a plane some 200 hours a month works out to savings of $200,000, or $2.4 million a year. “That’s a lot of money for an airline,” Boyd said in a call from Denver.

With dark blue seats in the main cabin and dark gray in first class, ample overhead bins, a new upscale carpet pattern and advanced TV screens in every seat, the quieter new plane was designed to provide a more satisfying experience than the increasingly weathered MD-80s.

Those old planes, along with some aging Boeing 757s, are being transitioned to the sprawling aircraft boneyard in Roswell, N.M.

The A319’s high-definition TV screens are identical to what’s offered on Boeing 777-300s, with a variety of TV programs, movies and a children’s section.

The current children’s offerings will be replaced by a multimedia Disney Family Room, including paid content, said Brian Richardson, director of in-flight entertainment and connectivity. The cost has not been set, he said.

First-class passengers have a choice of 200 movies, 180 TV shows and more than 350 audio selections, plus up to 15 video games on a 12.1-inch screen, all complimentary. The rest of the passengers can see programming from NBC Universal for free or pay $4 to access up to 200 films, 150 TV shows, and some 300 albums, audiobooks and games.

Each seat has outlets that accept U.S. and international plugs for electronic devices and chargers. Wi-Fi is available throughout the plane through gogo, for a fee.

American expects to have 15 A319s in service by the end of the year. On Oct. 1, A319 service from DFW will be extended to Dayton, Ohio; and Huntsville, Ala.; on Oct. 14 to McAllen and Toronto; and on Nov. 21 to Atlanta; Bogota, Colombia; and Corpus Christi.

On Dec. 19, it will be deployed from Los Angeles to Vail, Colo., and from DFW to Vail; Gunnison-Crested Butte, Colo.; and Jackson Hole, Wyo.

The narrow-body Airbus aircraft, which will also include the A320, are part of a 260-plane order with the European manufacturer.

Barry Shlachter, 817-390-7718 Twitter: @bshlachter

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American debuts new Airbus A319

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