On 13 December, United Airlines and Boeing announced the largest widebody order by a US carrier in commercial aviation history, the airline ordering 100 Boeing 787 Dreamliners with options to purchase 100 more.
United expects to take delivery of the new widebody planes between 2024 and 2032 and can choose among the 787-8, -9 or -10 models, providing flexibility to support a wide range of routes. The airline also exercised options to purchase 44 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft for delivery between 2024 and 2026 and ordered 56 more MAX aircraft for delivery between 2027 and 2028.
The carrier now expects to take delivery of about 700 new narrow and widebody aircraft by the end of 2032, including an average of more than two every week in 2023 and more than three every week in 2024.
United emerged from the pandemic as the world’s leading global airline and the flag carrier of the United States.Scott Kirby, United CEO
“This order further solidifies our lead and creates new opportunities for our customers, employees and shareholders by accelerating our plan to connect more people to more places around the globe and deliver the best experience in the sky”, said United’s CEO Scott Kirby.
The firm order for 787 aircraft addresses United’s current widebody aircraft replacement needs through the next decade. Approximately 100 planes of the new widebody order are expected to replace older Boeing 767 and Boeing 777 aircraft, with all 767 aircraft removed from the United fleet by 2030, resulting in up to an expected 25% decrease in carbon emissions per seat for the 787 planes, compared to the older models they are expected to replace, and 20% decrease for the 737 MAX, depending on the configuration.
With this investment in its future fleet, the 737 MAX and 787 will help United accelerate its fleet modernization and global growth strategy. The Boeing team is honoured by United’s trust in our family of airplanes to connect people and transport cargo around the world for decades to come.Stan Deal, president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes.
“This order solves for our current widebody replacement needs in a more fuel-efficient and cost-efficient way, while also giving our customers a best-in-class experience,” said Gerry Laderman, United’s EVP and Chief Financial Officer. “And if the future of long-haul flying is as bright as we think it will be, United is able to capitalize on those opportunities by exercising these new widebody options – I look forward to the incremental margin and earnings these aircraft will generate.”
The order not only offers Boeing a cash injection it desperately needs, having struggled to honour its orders over the pandemic and falling behind competitor Airbus, but it also shows a vote of confidence in the aircraft, after the American manufacturer has been subject to scrutiny over the past year due to safety concerns. The 737 MAX received numerous complains, culminating with the tragic accident in the southern Chinese province of Guangxi in March 2022, but it seems United is unphased by these concerns and trusts Boeing with its fleet renewal.