American Airlines announced Thursday that it will buy 90 regional jets from Bombardier and Embraer in a deal worth about $4 billion and possibly more.The Fort Worth-based carrier said the new 76-seat aircraft will replace smaller and less fuel-efficient 50-seat planes.“These new regional jets are also a big win for our employees at our regional subsidiary, and will greatly improve economic efficiencies by lowering operating costs,” Kenji Hashimoto, American’s senior vice president of regional carriers, said in a prepared release. American, which merged with US Airways on Monday, owns American Eagle and the US Airways subsidiary PSA.American has ordered 30 Bombardier CRJ-900 NextGen aircraft, with the option to buy 40 more. The CRJs will have 12 first-class seats, 32 main-cabin extra seats and 32 economy-class seats. The first delivery is expected in the second quarter of 2014. These planes will be operated by PSA.Bombardier, based in Canada, said its part of the order is valued at about $1.42 billion, which could increase to $3.38 billion if American converts its options into firm orders.American said it has also agreed to buy 60 Embraer E-175s, with an option for 90 more. Those planes will have 12 first-class seats, 20 main-cabin extra seats and 44 economy-class seats, with the first aircraft delivered in the first quarter of 2015.Embraer, based in Brazil, said the firm aircraft order is valued at $2.5 billion, based on the list price of the E-175. Big buyers typically negotiate a discount.The Embraer aircraft will be flown under the American Eagle livery, although the carrier has not decided which regional subsidiary will operate them.“We are currently evaluating where these new, large regional aircraft will be deployed,” American spokeswoman Andrea Huguely said. “However, these two-class-cabin, large regional jets will allow American to continue to put the right-size aircraft in competitive business markets.”While in bankruptcy, American had been in the market for newer regional jets. Its renegotiated pilot contracts allow the carrier to increase the larger regional jets added to its fleet.American Eagle owns and operates 47 Bombardier CRJ-700s that have about 65 seats and are on average 7 years old. It has 59 Embraer RJ-140s with 44 seats and 118 Embraer RJ-145s with 50 seats, and all the Embraer aircraft are on average 11 years old.Eagle also operates seven 37-seat Embraer RJ-135s that are leased.
Andrea Ahles, 817-390-7631 Twitter: @Sky_Talk