American Airlines is leasing its 130 A319 and A321 aircraft from Airbus, with those leases being sold on to third parties by the European airframer.
Lessors and investor funds are buying the aircraft with the leases attached, says Doug Greco, vice-president of sales finance at Airbus Americas, at the delivery of American's first A319 in Hamburg on 23 July.
Buyers must accept the terms of the leases, which the carrier and Airbus agreed to when the order was placed two years ago, he explains.
The leases include 10-year terms with the first aircraft (registration N8001) being sold to Avolon, says Peter Warlick, vice-president of treasury at the Fort Worth, Texas-based carrier, at the delivery.
The lessor already has four 737-800s and Boeing 777-300ERs placed with American, according to Flightglobal's Ascend Online database.
Airbus has sold down 30 of the American aircraft to date and is in conversations with additional lessors and funds regarding additional aircraft, says Greco.
"Financing is a tool to sell aircraft, [it] is not our goal to build a portfolio," he says. However, he adds that "this doesn't mean that we won't keep some" of the American aircraft over the short to medium term.
The lease structure also explains the lack of the order in Airbus' public orders and deliveries backlog. The airframer cannot record a sale until the aircraft are sold and off of its balance sheet, explains Greco.
American will take delivery of the 130 aircraft through 2017. It has yet to finalise the number of each variant that it will take from Airbus, disclosing only the 15 A319s and five A321s that it will take delivery of this year.
"There's a lot of flexibility in this deal," says Tom Horton, chairman and chief executive of American, at the ceremony. The carrier can convert later deliveries between A319s and A321s depending on demand, he says.
The lease agreement does not include the additional 130 A321neos that American has on order, says Greco.