United Airlines has finally decided on which aircraft will replace its aging Boeing 757-200 fleet. The spot is going to be occupied by a brand new extra long-range narrow-body, the Airbus A321XLR. The first of new airliners are expected to serve United’s international routes already in 2024, the U.S. legacy carrier announced on December 3, 2019. 

United Airlines currently operates 53 Boeing 757-200s, average age of which is 23 years, based on planespotters.net data. Now, the carrier is buying 50 Airbus A321XLRs that are going to be employed on transatlantic service, as an “ideal” one-for-one replacement, Andrew Nocella, the airline’s chief commercial officer explained in a statement.

However, United is also exploring possible new routes from its East Coast hubs in Newark/New York and Washington to Europe, as A321XLR’s range capabilities opened potential new destinations, according to Nocella. 

The original Boeing 757-200, produced until 2004, first entered service in 1983. With a range of up to 3,915 nautical miles or 7,250 kilometers, Boeing marketed as it having “the performance to serve short-, medium-, and long-range missions”. For instance, it could be operated from New York to Warsaw (Poland) or from Beijing (China) to Moscow (Russia). 

Airbus’s newly launched A321XLR (Xtra Long Range) is the long-range version of Airbus’ best-selling A321neo Family. Launched during the Paris Airshow (June 2019), the aircraft is to have a range of up to 4,700nm (8,700 km) in a two-class layout, which stands as 15% more than its predecessor, the A321LR (Long Range). The A321XLR is scheduled to enter service in 2023.

In total, United operates a fleet of 789 aircraft by both Airbus and Boeing. Besides the aging 757-200s, it also operates the slightly newer (yet still mature) version of the airliner, the 757-300, of which it has 54 planes (average age 17 years). In addition, the U.S. airline still flies 54 Boeing 767s; with an average age of over 22 years, the planes are presumably next in line for the replacement.