United Airlines will not retire 15 of its 757-200s as planned, as it examines viable replacements for the workhorse jet.
The plan was to retire the remaining pre-merger United fleet of 757-200s later this year, all of which are configured with 28 lie-flat beds and used almost exclusively on premium (p.s.) transcon routes. These aircraft are not certified to fly overseas and were due for both pricey heavy maintenance checks and mandatory fire suppression upgrades to the fuel tanks in the months to come. By retiring these aircraft, United could have avoided these pricey measures to extend the life of the aircraft.
But a very reliable FA on Flyertalk reports that these aircraft will not be retired and safety upgrades will proceed. Why? United has no viable replacements. With United set to begin exclusively lie-flat service in business class between San Francisco and Boston, more lie-flat aircraft are needed. These aircraft may be showing their age a bit, but still feature United’s current lie-flat business class and slim-line economy class seats.
United has examined the Airbus A321neo to take over routes formerly served by its 757-200s. It has also expressed interest in launching Boeing’s new “middle-of-the-market” (MoM) “797” aircraft. The problem is that these aircraft are many years away and United needs aircraft now.
Consumers should be happy over this news. The 757-200s that will remain in service have a higher business class – economy ratio than other aircraft. Furthermore, it hints of more domestic routes with lie-flat beds.
With no viable alternative at this time, United is wise (and forced) to extend the life of its 757-200 fleet.
top image courtesy of ERIC SALARD / Flickr