Legacy US Airways planes had a lot of economy seats. US Airways did not sell many premium seats and they sold them cheaply when they did. This was in line with their route network.
After US Airways management took control of American Airlines, they wanted to remove business class seats from planes and add more seats to lower cabins. Airbus A321s are the exception, where they have added four domestic first-class seats. For example,
American Airlines removed the business class seats from Boeing 777-220s. The legacy American Airlines management had laid out 45 business class seating and standardized to 37 business class seats when they took control.
When premium economy was added to the Boeing 787-8s, they also offered business class seats. These long-haul planes have only 20 business class seats.
The Airbus A321T was launched on the first flight. I flew Los Angeles New York JFK. A legacy US Airways Vice President informed me that they would remove the three-cabin first classes from these planes as they wouldn't be able sell the product.
American Boeing 787-8 Concept D Business Class
Vasu Raja, the airline's Vice President of Planning, complained that there werent enough premium seats for sale. In collaboration with British Airways, they were making London Heathrow their main European gateway. Heathrow is a high-end airport. BA had more premium seats than they could sell, and it was not enough in certain markets. American had a lot of low-value real estate to offer their customers.
Raja, the airline's Chief Revenue Officer, reports that they plan to use more premium-heavy configurations. It is not clear if this means reconfiguring existing aircraft or that new Boeing 787-9s and 787-9s as well as Airbus A321XLRs planes will have more business class seats.
Raja spoke out in an interview with Simple Flying late last month.
We want to ensure that we have the right configurations for the future. If you look back at us, you will see that we operated a lot of our widebody fleet in an economy-heavy configuration. We have been encouraged by premium economy. This means that we can offer flat seats in business class in any non-traditional market, even if they are not in the major European capitals such as Heathrow and De Gaulle. We believe there are many ways we can improve the configuration of our planes so that people are willing to pay more for seats.
American will take new aircraft with business class seats and, hopefully, Raja is right that there will be more.