It’s a bit late in a heavy news day, but United Airlines has signed on the dotted line for a lot of aircraft. Let us dive in.
Over in the Boeing Corner
United Airlines has converted options for the Boeing 787 family, by exercising the 50 options it has for Boeing 787-9. As well as that, it has secured a further 50 options.
With 150 firm orders, United has the largest Dreamliner orderbook on record and is positioned to become the largest 787 operator in the world. Today’s announcement follows the airline’s record-setting purchase of 100 787 airplanes last year.
United’s existing fleet consists of more than 70 Dreamliners, consisting of all three variants of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner family.
Stan Deal, president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said:
“United’s unprecedented commitment to the 787 Dreamliner family is a testament to the market-leading operating economics and reliability of Boeing’s widebody jets,”
“With the 787, United will enjoy all the synergies of operating one of the largest, most efficient fleets in the skies.”
Meanwhile at Airbus
United Airlines continues its spending spree, with orders for 60 Airbus A321neo aircraft and purchase rights for a further 40.
United Airlines Airbus A321neo – Image, Airbus.
United previously ordered 50 A321XLR and 70 A321neo aircraft. With this new order, the airline’s direct purchase commitment from Airbus is now for 180 A321 aircraft.
Christian Scherer, Airbus Chief Commercial Officer and Head of International, said:
“Upon introduction of the A321neo into its fleet in the coming weeks, United will take full benefit of Airbus’ Airspace cabin, providing an exceptional customer and cabin crew experience completely in phase with the United Next initiative,”
“With regard to operations, the A321neo’s fuel efficiency, lower carbon footprint and lower maintenance and operating costs will be a game changer for our partners at United.”
A view from United
United expects to take delivery of about 800 new narrowbody and widebody aircraft between 2023 and the end of 2032.
A key component of the United Next plan is growth in gauge, essentially flying larger planes with more available seats on the same route. Given that United currently operates out of the largest markets in the country – Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Newark/NYC, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. – up-gauging also boosts overall connectivity domestically and internationally.
United’s latest aircraft order starts at the end of the decade and can be used for fleet growth or replacement, depending on the demand and the economic climate at the time. From a widebody perspective, the 50 incremental 787-9s that United ordered today will allow the airline to further simplify its international fleet
United CEO Scott Kirby, said
“We’re building a bright future at United and this order takes our already successful United Next plan into the next decade and beyond,”
“Our planning and focus on the long term have helped us surge past other airlines that stood still. I’m convinced our strategy is the right one as we continue to add new, larger aircraft to take full advantage of our growing flying opportunities both internationally and domestically.”
That’s a big upgrade. And simplification to boot
With another 110 aircraft on the way to United Airlines (plus a further 90 in the back pocket if options and purchase rights are exercised), United Airlines is clearly looking at its legacy fleet and working out what isn’t efficient – in terms of size or payload as it seeks to increase its seat count, whilst simplifying its fleet.
With a simpler fleet comes the joy of lower operational costs, as the fleet is simplified further.
Whilst an airline can sweat its assets until the end of time, there comes a point where replacing them works out cheaper – and it seems that United Airlines has got to the point where its time to plan for a simpler fleet with newer aircraft.
But there are a lot of new aircraft coming to the airline in the next few years. Lots of planning and integration ahead.
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