United Airlines places record order for 270 Boeing and Airbus aircraft

United Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 9
Philip Pilosian/Shutterstock

Forecasting a solid recovery in air transport, United Airlines placed the largest order in its history. To prepare its fleet, the carrier ordered 200 Boeing 737 MAX and 70 Airbus A321neo jets. At list prices, the deal is estimated at $35.38 billion.

This order is also the largest placed by a US-based carrier since 2011 when American Airlines (A1G) (AAL) ordered a total of 460 Airbus and Boeing aircraft.

In detail, the Boeing order includes 150 Boeing 737 MAX 10 as well as 50 Boeing 737 MAX 8. 

United Airlines will be the launch company for the MAX 10, with 100 units already ordered.  The largest variant in the single-aisle MAX family successfully completed its maiden flight on June 18, 2021. United’s renewed commitment will come as a relief to the Boeing 737 MAX program.

The 70 A321neo will be ordered in their standard variant. As a reminder, United also placed an order in December 2019 for 50 A321XLR aircraft, the very long-range version of the single-aisle, to gradually replace its Boeing 757-200ER fleet.

In addition, the airline plans to retrofit the cabin of its whole mainline, narrow-body fleet. “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,” said United CEO Scott Kirby.

Currently, United Airlines operates the oldest fleet among US legacy carriers, with an average fleet age of 16.3 years against 14 years for Delta Air Lines and 11.4 years for American Airlines (A1G) (AAL).

United Airlines expects the resumption of business travel, still down by 60%, to accelerate in Autumn 2021. As for international travel, “we could see records on transatlantic flights” by Summer 2022, according to Kirby. United Airlines expects to generate positive adjusted pre-tax income in the month of July 2021.


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