FORT WORTH, Texas - American Airlines is buying at least 460 new planes over the next five years and splitting the order between aerospace giants Boeing and Airbus.
American's parent, AMR Corp., said Wednesday it will buy 260 planes from Airbus and 200 from Boeing. It will also take options and purchase rights for up to 465 additional planes through 2025.
The airline expects the new, better-mileage planes will save money on fuel and provide more enticing amenities to passengers.
Tom Horton, president of American Airlines, told "The Early Show" on Wednesday morning that his company's decision to split the order between Boeing and Airbus was strictly "a matter of scale."
"We wanted to do this big and we wanted to do it quickly," Horton told CBS News business and economic correspondent Rebecca Jarvis, defending the move to give millions in business to a European company.
"These companies have been long-standing partners of American Airlines," said Horton. "Our needs were just so great, and we wanted to do this in such a big way, that one company, one manufacturer couldn't fulfill our needs in the timeframe."
Horton insisted that Boeing's recent labor issues, which have threatened to setback their manufacturing commitments, did not play a part in his company's decision.
"It wasn't that at all, it was really a matter of scale," he told Jarvis.
CBS News travel editor Peter Greenberg says, however, that many industry analysts suspect the deal was motivated by the ongoing labor disputes at Boeing's assembly plants.