Most U.S. Airlines Putting Off Plane Orders

The skyrocketing cost of fuel has put hopes of a U.S. Market rebound on hold.

"When we get to that point, when profitability allows us to be thinking about new airplanes as either replacements or for growth, we clearly will look at all the options out there and decide what's best for our company," he said

American is a founding member of the OneWorld alliance, which announced Sunday that Japan Airlines, Asia's biggest airline, will join the group.

Arpey delivered a formal invitation to JAL Chief Executive-designate Haruka Nishimatsu at a meeting of the OneWorld governing board in Paris, ahead of the meeting of the International Air Transport Association.

In addition to American, the alliance includes British Airways, Qantas, Cathay Pacific, Iberia, LAN, Finnair and Aer Lingus, although the Irish carrier is leaving the alliance. Malev and Royal Jordanian will also be joining the alliance.

In an interview with the P-I after the OneWorld meeting, Nishimatsu said Japan Airlines will eventually consider Boeing's planned 450-passenger 747-8 Intercontinental, or the 555-passenger Airbus A380. But for now, he said, the airline is focused on smaller jets such as the 737 for its domestic fleet. JAL has 30 of those planes on order and could buy more.

Boeing has not yet landed a customer for the passenger version of its 747-8, known as the Intercontinental, but has said it expects to do so this year. The 747-8 Intercontinental will be the first-ever stretch of the 747 and will seat about 35 more passengers than the current 747-400.

Boeing has orders for the 747-8 freighter, which will enter service in 2009. The 747-8 Intercontinental will enter service in 2010.

Japan Airlines operates about 60 747 passenger planes, of which about 30 are older models. It also has a growing fleet of 777s and has ordered Boeing's 787.

Nishimatsu said JAL will continue to consolidate its long-haul fleet around the twin-engine 777 rather than the four-engine 747.

"This will be our policy for the near future," he said, suggesting it could be some time before any serious consideration is given to Boeing's 747-8 or the Airbus A380.

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