Jan 17 (Reuters) - American Airlines plans to increase its regional plane fleet this year, an executive said on Thursday.
Virasb Vahidi, American Airlines' chief commercial officer, said the carrier's new agreement with its pilots union gave American the flexibility to order large regional jets and to contract with regional airline partners.
"That process started in November, where SkyWest is our regional partner and is flying our American Eagle planes out of Los Angeles," Vahidi said in an interview. "We will continue in 2013 to start growing our large regional jet fleet consistent with our business plan."
Any orders for regional jets from American, whose parent AMR Corp is weighing a merger with US Airways Group against exiting Chapter 11 as a standalone company, could help the backlogs of manufacturers such as Brazil's Embraer and Canada's Bombardier.
On Thursday, American unveiled an updated look for its planes and a new logo, the first overhaul of the exterior in more than 40 years. The planes are a silver mica color, and the tail has red, white and blue stripes.
"The timing of the reveal of the new look and feel was driven by operational necessity," Vahidi said, noting that American has two new Boeing 777-300s that will enter service in two weeks that need to be painted in the new livery.
American, which has more than 550 planes on order, expects to take delivery of 59 new aircraft this year, including Boeing 777 and 737-800 models and the Airbus A319 and A321, Vahidi said.