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United places largest wide-body aircraft order with Boeing in the history of U.S.

United has unveiled the largest wide-body aircraft order with Boeing in the history of the United States. This order will place the airline on the path of continued growth and gradual renewal of its fleet.

Boeing B787 Dreamliners incoming!

United has placed an order for up to 200 Boeing B787 Dreamliners, out of which 100 are firm orders with options for 100 more. The airline is free to choose between the -8, -9 or -10 variant of the Dreamliner. United expects to take delivery of the new widebody planes between 2024 and 2032.

Additionally, the carrier has also exercised options to purchase 44 Boeing B737MAX aircraft from a previous order for delivery between 2024 and 2026 and has ordered 56 more B737MAX aircraft for delivery between 2027 and 2028.

The airline 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. 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 Scott Kirby, CEO, United.

These 100 Dreamliners are expected to replace older Boeing B767 and Boeing B777 aircraft. All B767s will be retired by the end of 2030. There will be an approximate 25% decrease in carbon emissions per seat for the new planes compared to the older planes they are expected to replace.

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 honored by United’s trust in our family of airplanes to connect people and transport cargo around the world for decades to come.

said Stan Deal, President and CEO, Boeing.

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. 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.

said Gerry Laderman, EVP and Chief Financial Officer, United.

Our widebody fleet will be re-energized by these new 787 deliveries and further strengthen what we do best: connect people and unite the world with modern, customer friendly and fuel-efficient aircraft. United is uniquely positioned to capture international travel demand thanks to our global network, fleet size and gateway hubs. This combination represents a significant advantage for our business for years to come and another reason for business and leisure customers to choose United.

said Andrew Nocella, EVP and Chief Commercial Officer, United.

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Aircraft retrofit plans

United continues to upgrade the interiors of its existing fleet. More than 90% of the carrier’s international widebodies now feature the United Polaris business class seat, as well as United Premium Plus seating – upgrades for the remaining aircraft will be completed by the summer of 2023. United also will retrofit 100% of its mainline, narrow-body planes with its signature interior – about 100 aircraft are scheduled to be completed in 2023 with the remaining expected to be completed by the end of 2025.

Much needed

United was the only airline until now which did not have a wide-body fleet renewal plan in place. That has changed now with this order of Dreamliners.

It is not surprising to see that United has sticked with the Dreamliner for its future growth and for its fleet modernisation. The airline has also ordered some Airbus A350s that are scheduled to enter its fleet starting 2027 but that order is still up in the air, with no updates neither from the airline nor from Airbus.

Eventually, United’s B767s and B777s will get replaced with B787s, meaning that in a decades time, we will majorly see Dreamliners operating medium- and long-haul routes for the airline. This will ensure fleet commonality for the airline, resulting in lower operating costs.

The hard products on United’s long-haul fleet are fairly new and updated to current standards. However, in a decades time or perhaps after 7-8 years, the airline may need to rethink about its hard products.

Given that the B787s will become the backbone of the airline’s fleet, it will have to focus on how many seats will it have on these aircraft, given that many of these aircraft will have to operate thin routes where premium demand may be not that much.

All in all, United finally has its fleet renewal plan in place, with Boeing continuing with its domination in United’s medium- and long-haul fleet.

Featured image by United

What do you think of United continuing with B787 fleet expansion? Let me know in the comments section below.

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