American Airlines buys supersonic jets cutting travel time between London and New York in half

American Airlines has ordered 20 jets from Boom Supersonic

American Airlines has ordered 20 jets from Boom Supersonic (Picture: AP)

A major airline is making a big bet on high-speed intercontinental travel.

American Airlines on Tuesday finalized an agreement with Boom Supersonic for the purchase of 20 commercial supersonic jetliners.

Last year, Boom sold 15 jets to United Airlines. It also received a $10 million investment from Japan Airlines.

However, the Denver, Colorado-based company has yet to produce a work plane. Boom’s first aircraft, the Overture, exists only on the drawing board.

The Overture is a four-engine commercial aircraft that carries between 65 and 88 passengers and is expected to fly at around 1,300 miles per hour, or 1.7 times the speed of sound.

Tickets on an Overture flight are expected to cost between $4,000 and $5,000 for a 3.5 hour flight from New York to London.

It currently takes a standard airliner nearly seven hours on average to fly the same route.

American Airlines also plans to use the supersonic jets for other overseas trips, including a three-hour trip from Los Angeles to Honolulu and a five-hour trip from Miami to London, the company said.

The jets would also have a net-zero carbon footprint, using only sustainable aviation fuel made from plant-based materials.

“Looking forward, supersonic travel will be an important part of our ability to deliver to our customers,” said American Airlines Chief Financial Officer Derek Kerr.

However, reviewers point out that Boom hasn’t even designed or produced an engine for the Overture yet. The company is currently in talks with Rolls Royce to supply the engines, according to reports.

Others point to the high price of sustainable aviation fuel, which currently sells for around $8.67 per gallon, more than double the price of jet fuel per gallon, according to one report.

Still other critics say Boom’s production schedule is too ambitious – even though planes ordered by American Airlines won’t be ready to fly passengers until 2029.

Boom is not the first company to market supersonic jets for commercial use. For decades, Air France and British Airways have flown the Concorde, a supersonic jet capable of flying across the Atlantic at comparable speeds.

The Concorde was first designed in the 1970s and made its first commercial trip in 1976. A total of seven jets flew commercially between Paris Charles de Gaulle, London Heathrow, Washington Dulles and JFK in New York.

The Concorde was retired in 2003. Despite its speed, high consumer prices meant the jets never caught on with the general public.

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