Editor’s note: This is not the kind of post that typically appears on More Than Travel. However, such a historic order which will offer passengers enhanced comfort needed to be addressed on the blog.

AMR, the parent company of American Airlines, today announced that they would be placing a record order for 460 aircraft, to be delivered starting in 2013. This is in addition to 57 aircraft already on order.

American claims that they will have the youngest fleet among airline peers within “five years.” As of now, American has one of the largest fleets, with 622 planes currently in service. So, if you think about it a certain way, American is basically slowly replacing their entire fleet with more advanced planes.

This order is a bit confusing to me, and I have several questions about it:

  • Why does American need both the 737 and the A320?

The 737 and A320 families of aircraft basically serve the same purpose and fly the same routes. The only difference is that Boeing manufactures the 737 and Airbus manufactures the A320. Until now, American has had an all-Boeing fleet. The 737 and A320 have so many overlapping features that it is confusing me that they are ordering aircraft from two different (and competing) manufacturers, especially in such quantity!

  • Can the A320 really replace the 757?

American is marketing the A320 as a replacement to the 757. While the capacity is comparable, I wonder if the A320 has the range to replace the 757 on routes like New York – Madrid and New York – Paris, which an ETOPS (Extended Operations) 757 currently operates. Maybe it’s because I like the 757 so much, but the thought of flying on an A320 for eight hours makes me shudder.

I congratulate American on their efforts to make everyone more comfortable onboard their flights! I hope that some of the question that I have as well as others have will be answered in the near future.

For more about the order, find AA’s press release here.