United today announced the purchase of 270 new Boeing and Airbus aircraft – the largest combined order in the airline’s history and the biggest by an individual carrier in the last decade.
Order for 270 Boeing and Airbus aircrafts
United Airlines today announced that it is purchasing 50 Boeing B737MAX-8s, 150 B737MAX-10s and 70 Airbus A321neos. All of these new aircrafts will come with a new signature interior that includes seat-back entertainment in every seat, larger overhead bins for every passenger’s carry-on bag and available in-flight WiFi, as well as a bright look-and-feel with LED lighting. United’s first B737MAX-8 with the new signature interior will begin flying this summer with the firsts B737MAX-10 and Airbus A321neos flying in early 2023.
The airline’s ‘United Next’ plan will have a transformational effect on the customer experience and is expected to increase the total number of available seats per domestic departure by almost 30%.
If we combine this order with the current order book, United expects to introduce more than 500 new, narrow-body aircraft: 40 in 2022, 138 in 2023 and as many as 350 in 2024 and beyond. This means that in 2023, United’s fleet will, on average, add about one new narrow-body aircraft every three days.
Upgrading entire narrow body fleet
United Airlines intends to upgrade 100% of its mainline, narrow-body fleet to these standards by 2025. This order will also significantly boost United’s total number of mainline daily departures and available seats across the airline’s North American network, as well as the number of premium seats.
Additionally, the Chicago-based carrier expects it will have on average 53 premium seats per North American departure by 2026, an increase of about 75% over 2019, and ‘more than any competitor in North America’.
Scott Kirby, CEO, United Airlines, said:
Our United Next vision will revolutionize the experience of flying United as we accelerate our business to meet a resurgence in air travel. 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 commerce.
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Plus, adding these new B737MAX and Airbus A321neo aircraft means United will replace older, smaller mainline jets and at least 200 single-class regional jets with larger aircraft, which the airline expects will lead to significant sustainability benefits compared to older planes: an expected 11% overall improvement in fuel efficiency and an expected 17-20% lower carbon emission per seat compared to older planes.
United’s B737MAX-8 consists of 16 First class seats and 54 Economy Plus seats – more than double the number of extra leg room seats offered by competing airlines on similar-sized aircraft. The B737MAX-10, which makes up the majority of United’s new order, features 20 First class seats and 64 Economy Class seats. The Airbus A321neo is also expected to feature the same number of extra-legroom seats as that if B737MAX-10.
Andrew Nocella, EVP and Chief Commercial Officer, United Airlines, said:
We’ll deliver a better, more consistent experience, with more features for more customers, faster than ever. While some airlines are reducing the number of economy seats with extra leg room, United will offer the most premium seats in North America, taking a different, more customer-friendly approach. This is United playing to our strengths – the location of our U.S. hubs means we’re uniquely positioned to focus on premium products, business travel and global flying like no other U.S. airline. Our new, signature interior creates a more consistent product across our mainline fleet – with a focus on the amenities that customers value most like seat back screens, fast WiFi and extra storage – to further set ourselves apart.
United’s inflight entertainment – 13-inch High-definition screens in every first class seat and 10-inch HD screens in every United Economy seat on the 737 MAX – includes free access to more than 2,800 selections including movies, TV shows and international selections, as well as audio playlists, podcasts, and games. Customers also can watch documentaries and live concerts through United’s exclusive collaboration with the Coda Collection. Plus, every seat on these aircraft has access to electrical power and USB charge ports and provides a seatback experience with accessibility features for people with hearing or visual disabilities.
United’s new, significantly larger overhead bins will provide space for one carry-on bag for every person onboard, addressing several of the biggest pain points among customers and employees. The airline expects that the availability of these larger bins will help alleviate gate crowding and anxiety, reduce the number of gate-checked bags and decrease the time it takes to board.
Returning to full schedule at Newark
United expects to resume its full schedule of flights out of Newark by November 2021, once the FAA slot waiver period ends. The airline is already the leading carrier from Newark with 430 daily flights that include international destinations like Johannesburg, Tel Aviv, Mumbai and Hong Kong.
United expects the number of Newark departures on mainline aircraft to increase from 55% in 2019 to 70% by 2026. And by late 2021, United expects 100% of Newarkdepartures to be on dual-class aircraft, including the 737 MAX and the airline’s new, dual-class 50-seat CRJ-550 jet.
United is in the midst of a significant facility expansion and upgrade project at Newark. The work includes renovating an existing United Club location in Terminal C, building a completely new lounge in Terminal C that is capable of accommodating 500 travelers and will have panoramic views of Manhattan, as well as building a brand new United Club in Terminal A where United will operate from 12 new gates.
The airline has also added 2 brand-new destinations to its network. United recently announced 3 brand-new routes between California and Florida. A few days ago, the carrier also made headlines when it signed a agreement to buy 50 aircrafts from Boom Supersonic.
Featured image by Sam Chui
What do you think of United’s new aircraft order? Do you think travel will rebound by 2023 when the airline starts inducting these new aircrafts into its fleet? Do you think that it is too optimistic? Let me know in the comments section below.