United to take delivery of 800 new jets by 2032 following Airbus and Boeing deal

United Airlines Airbus A321neo
Airbus / United Airlines

800 new narrowbody and widebody planes are scheduled to join the United Airlines fleet by 2032 following the announcement of new orders with both Boeing and Airbus.  

Under the new agreements, confirmed on October 3, 2023, United has exercised options and purchase rights to order 50 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner jets and 60 Airbus A321neo aircraft. 

United previously ordered 50 A321XLR and 70 A321neo aircraft, meaning the airline’s direct purchase commitment from Airbus now totals 180 A321 aircraft.   

United also has 150 firm orders with Boeing for 787s, making it the airline with the largest Dreamliner orderbook on record. Indeed, the carrier is positioned to become the largest 787 operator in the world.  

In December 2022, Boeing and United announced an order for 100 787 aircraft, the largest single Dreamliner order in Boeing history. 

United expects to receive the 50 Boeing 787-9s between 2028 and 2031 and the 60 Airbus A321neos between 2028 and 2030.   

United also secured new options for up to 50 more Boeing 787s and purchase rights for an additional 40 A321neo aircraft at the end of the decade. 

“We’re building a bright future at United, and this order takes our already successful United Next plan into the next decade and beyond,” United CEO Scott Kirby said. “Our planning and focus on the long term have helped us surge past other airlines that stood still. I’m convinced our strategy is the right one as we continue to add new, larger aircraft to take full advantage of our growing flying opportunities both internationally and domestically.” 

A key component of the United Next plan is growth in gauge – essentially flying larger planes with more available seats on the same route.   

In 2019, United averaged 104 seats per North American departure, among the lowest in the industry. By 2027, United expects that number to increase more than 40% to over 145.   

United’s A321neo aircraft will feature the Airbus’ Airspace cabin. This includes a unique welcome area and the latest full LED lighting technologies (which helps to reduce jet lag), new slimmer sidewall panels for extra personal space at shoulder level, improved window views with redesigned bezels and completely integrated window shades, new large overhead bins and additional elements to enhance the passenger experience. 

“Upon introduction of the A321neo into its fleet in the coming weeks, United will take full benefit of Airbus’ Airspace cabin, providing an exceptional customer and cabin crew experience completely in phase with the United Next initiative,” Christian Scherer, Airbus CCO and Head of International, said. “With regard to operations, the A321neo’s fuel efficiency, lower carbon footprint and lower maintenance and operating costs will be a game changer for our partners at United.” 

The Boeing 787 is the best-selling widebody in history with more than 1,800 orders from 87 customers – including more than 870 repeat orders from 56 repeat customers.  

During 2023, customers have placed nearly 350 orders and commitments for the 787 family. 

“With this investment in its future fleet, the 737 MAX and 787 will help United accelerate its fleet modernization and global growth strategy,” Stan Deal, president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes said. “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.” 

United has over 370 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft on firm order through to 2030. United expects that 75% of its fleet will be new generation by 2030. 

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