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American Airlines buys 90 jets from Embraer, Bombardier

A model of an Embraer aircraft on display at Le Bourget airport, Paris, on June 17, 2013
A model of an Embraer aircraft on display at Le Bourget airport, Paris, on June 17, 2013

American Airlines kicked off its freshly minted status as the world's largest carrier Thursday with an aggressive order for $3.9 billion worth of regional jets from Brazil's Embraer and Canada's Bombardier.

Three days after completing its merger with US Airways, the new American said it had inked deals to buy 30 CJR900 NextGen aircraft from Bombardier, and 60 Embraer E175s.

Bombardier said its deal was worth $1.42 billion, while Embraer put a $2.5 billion value on its order.

American also has options to buy an additional 40 CJR900s and 90 E175s.

American said the 76-seat regional jets ordered will replace less efficient 50-seat jets it currently operates on short- and medium-haul flights.

They will all be flown under the American Eagle regional brand.

The CJR900s, which will be delivered beginning in the second quarter of next year, will be configured with 12 first-class seats, 32 "main cabin extra" seats and 32 regular seats, American said.

The E175s, the first of which will arrive in the first quarter of 2015, will have 12 first-class, 20 main cabin extra and 44 regular seats.

All of the aircraft will be powered by General Electric CF34-8 engines, American said.

"Now that we've closed our merger with US Airways, we can deliver a top-tier regional product that offers a first-class cabin, main cabin extra and in-flight wi-fi -- important elements of an improved flying experience for our customers," said Kenji Hashimoto, American's senior vice president for regional carriers.

The new aircraft "will greatly improve economic efficiencies by lowering operating costs," he said in a statement.

Including this latest order from American Airlines, Embraer, the world's third-largest commercial aircraft manufacturer behind Boeing and Airbus, said it has received orders and options for more than 700 E-jets from US airlines this year.

Paulo Cesar Silva, president and chief executive of Embraer Commercial Aviation, hailed the "remarkable order" from American.

Passengers wait for flights at the American Airlines terminal at O'Hare Airport on December 9, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois
Passengers wait for flights at the American Airlines terminal at O'Hare Airport on December 9, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois

"American achieved impressive results with the ERJ145 aircraft family, and we are sure that will continue with the E175," he said.

Mike Arcamone, president of Bombardier Commercial Aircraft, said the CJR900 offers major cost savings on fuel and a lower environmental impact, which with its "outstanding" cabin amenities, are "all core priorities for today's competitive airlines."

The order is the first announced after American completed Monday its merger with US Airways, a combination that made it the world's largest carrier.

The merger came after the two agreed to give up a number of slots and other rights at several US airports to satisfy the concerns of US antitrust authorities who feared the new American would over-consolidate the power of the country's top four carriers and hurt consumer choice.

It also came as American itself emerges from bankruptcy reorganization.

The $11 billion merger was first announced in February, but was held up by an antitrust lawsuit from the US government and backed by several states, worried about the combined airline's potential monopoly power.

The shares of the new American, which began trading Monday on the Nasdaq exchange under the AAL symbol, were up 1.7 percent at $26.44 in early trade Thursday.

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