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United Airlines Books Big with Boeing, Airbus

June 29, 2021
The carrier is initiating an extensive update of its single-aisle aircraft fleet with orders for 200 new Boeing 737 MAX aircraft and 70 new Airbus A321neo jets, with some deliveries as soon as this summer.

United Airlines has placed orders for 270 new aircraft, worth more than $30 billion at list prices, reportedly making it the carrier’s largest-ever booking for new capacity. The choices of new aircraft – from United’s longtime provider Boeing Commercial Airplanes as well as rival Airbus S.A. – indicate plans to compete in different niches of the airline market.

All of the new aircraft will be of the twin-engine, narrow-body type that dominates domestic leisure and business travel.

The airline also committed to add 25,000 unionized workers.

"Our 'United Next' vision will revolutionize the experience of flying United as we accelerate our business to meet a resurgence in air travel," stated United CEO Scott Kirby. "By adding and upgrading this many aircraft so quickly with our new signature interiors, we'll combine friendly, helpful service with the best experience in the sky, all across our premier global network. At the same time, this move underscores the critical role United plays in fueling the broader U.S. economy – we expect the addition of these new aircraft will have a significant economic impact on the communities we serve in terms of job creation, traveler spending and the shipping of goods and services."

United ordered 200 new Boeing 737 MAX jets, including 150 of the 737-10 variant, the largest of the series, which seats up to 230 passengers and offering a 3,550-mile range. The other 50 new aircraft will be 737-8s, seating up to 178 and having a 3,300-mile range.  Boeing noted the fuel-efficient 737 MAX can cover 99% of single-aisle routes and reduce fuel consumption and carbon emissions by at least 14% compared to the airplanes it replaces.

Of the 737-8s to be acquired, 25 will be aircraft completed but undelivered because of other airlines’ cancelled orders - meaning United will begin taking possession of the jets this summer.

The 70 Airbus A321neo aircraft increases United Airlines’ commitment to that series, of which it previously ordered 50 A321XLRs, the extended-range single-aisle jet capable of intercontinental service.

Airbus reported that “a significant number” of United’s new A321neo jets will be assembled at the OEM’s U.S. manufacturing center in Mobile, Ala.

Adding the new orders to previously placed contracts, United Airlines now has orders in place 500 new single-aisle jets with deliveries to begin this year and continue through 2026.

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