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Airlines New Plane Binge

American Airlines Capt. Paul Wannberg, left, and First Officer Robert Popp prepare a Boeing 757 jet for take off from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport in Grapevine, Texas. The pair is piloting the passenger plane for the last time before it is retired. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

American Airlines' Jet Buying Binge

Airlines are on the largest jet-buying spree in the history of aviation, ordering more than 8,200 new planes with manufacturers Airbus SAS and The Boeing Co. in the past five years. There are now a combined 24 planes rolling off assembly lines each week, up from 11 a decade ago. And that rate is expected to keep climbing.

The new planes allow the airlines to save on fuel, now their biggest cost, while offering passengers more amenities — some for a fee. Passengers can plug in to work or be entertained by a seat-back TV and fly some international routes nonstop for the first time. And the commercial divisions of Boeing and Airbus get a steady stream of cash for years, which is a key reason investors have doubled the companies' stock price in the past year.