American Airlines commits to 42 Dreamliners

American Airlines became the first domestic carrier in a long time to place an order for the 787 Dreamliner. The order includes 42 planes to start, with the option for 58 more later.

American Airlines announced on Oct. 15 that it plans to order as many as 100 of The Boeing Co.'s (Seattle, Wash.) forthcoming 787 Dreamliner aircraft. The order is for 42 planes immediately, witht he option for 58 more in the future. The order would make American the largest North American airline customer for the Dreamliner. United Airlines as the only major U.S. carrier without immediate plans to add the 787 to its fleet.

American's order was not a surprise, although it wasn't expected until next year. Beyond the American announcement, aircraft orders have stalled at Boeing as the company copes with a strike by its largest union that has shut down its assembly line since Sept. 6 and which, some analysts say, appears certain to trigger another delay for the 787, which is already running about 18 months behind schedule.

The first 42 Dreamliners ordered by American are scheduled to be delivered starting in late 2012 through 2018. It also has the right to purchase an additional 58 of the aircraft from 2015 through 2020. The airline says it plans to use the 787 to replace some of the older wide-body planes in its fleet and on new routes that it expects to open up if regulators approve a new, three-way alliance with British Airways and Iberia.