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AMR says judge OKs new aircraft purchases

DALLAS (AP) -- A federal bankruptcy judge approved a request for permission to buy new, fuel-efficient Boeing and Airbus planes for American Airlines, its parent company said Wednesday.

AMR Corp. said that it would allow American to sign contracts with aircraft and engine manufacturers to make its fleet the youngest among top U.S. airlines by 2017.

American plans to take delivery of nearly 60 planes this year and has 550 aircraft on order.

AMR spokesman Sean Collins called the judge's ruling a milestone in the company's bankruptcy restructuring. "By receiving these approvals from the court, we expect to continue to build the most modern, fuel-efficient fleet among U.S. network carriers in less than five years," Collins said.

In July 2011, American announced that it would buy 460 new Boeing 737 and Airbus A320-series planes in the coming years with $13 billion in manufacturer financing and take options to buy additional jets. American has been slowly reducing its fleet of aging McDonnell Douglas MD-80-series planes, which guzzle more fuel than newer jets and has been the object of maintenance issues with safety regulators.

AMR, based in Fort Worth, Texas, filed for bankruptcy protection in November 2011. The company is considering whether to join with US Airways Group Inc. or to exit Chapter 11 protection on its own.