United Airlines is deferring Airbus A350XWB order once again, this time pushing first deliveries from 2020 to 2027. While the first XWBs have not even been delivered, the aircraft type is already struggling to find its place in United’s fleet. After a series of deferrals and postponements, the A350 is now expected to enter United’ fleet 11 years later than originally expected.
United Airlines announced it is deferring Airbus A350XWB aircraft deliveries from 2020 to 2027 to align better with its operational needs, the U.S. legacy carrier stated on December 3, 2019.
United originally ordered 25 A350-900s back in March 2010. Three years later, in June 2013, the carrier decided it needed a larger variant of A350XWB and switched to A350-1000s, adding ten extra planes to the order, which then totalled at 35 A350-1000s.
However, in September 2017, it had a change of heart once again, switching back to the -900 version and adding ten more aircraft. Since then, United order stands at 45 Airbus A350-900s, the manufacturer’s books show.
Alongside changing aircraft type requirements, United Airlines continuously delayed first deliveries’ date. The original agreement foresaw deliveries to begin in 2016 and last until 2019. Now, taking the latest postponement into account, the first A350XWBs will enter the fleet 17 years after placing the original order ‒ and eleven later than originally planned.
The Airbus aircraft were previously to replace the airline’s Boeing 777-200s, of which it currently has 72 (average age over 20 years), planespotters.net data shows.