Photo: Tom MaglieryAmerican Airlines just announced a huge $38 billion commitment to fuel efficient, climate-friendly airplanes with the purchase of 460 new aircraft. American hopes that this purchase will help get it out of its current financial troubles: In the second quarter, parent company AMR lost a whopping $286 million as increased fuel prices overwhelmed a boost in revenue.
American is getting the majority of its new planes from European manufacturer Airbus, which has taken a commanding lead in production of the fuel efficient, climate-friendly aircraft the aviation industry is demanding. The move is a further blow to Boeing, the traditional U.S. market leader, which has struggled to keep pace: American hadn’t ordered an Airbus plane in 20 years.
Among the planes American is ordering from Airbus is the A320neo, which the company says is 15 percent more fuel efficient than aircraft currently in service. The neo was the star of the Paris Air Show, where Airbus racked up a further 730 new plane orders, compared to just 142 for Boeing.
As I wrote a few weeks ago, Airbus’ success at delivering the fuel efficient, climate-friendly planes airlines are demanding is giving Europe an enormous green jobs dividend. Its lead at the Paris air show alone amounted to an estimated 1 million additional jobs for workers in Toulouse, Hamburg, and Seville, and today’s announcement will deliver even more. This advantage didn’t come from nowhere: It reflects a more intense focus on efficiency and climate in European business, driven in part by Europe’s climate law, which is about to require emissions reductions in the aviation sector.
Until the United States is willing to make a similarly ambitious effort to cut pollution and invest in green innovation, we may see more and more jobs in more and more sectors leaving our shores for those countries that are meeting the big, green demand increasingly driving business decisions around the world.