United Airlines has placed a firm order for 100 Boeing 787 Dreamliner jets and secured options to purchase up to 100 more, marking the largest widebody order by a US carrier in commercial aviation history. It has also ordered more Boeing 737 MAX jets.
United Airlines Orders Up Too 200 Boeing 787 Dreamliners
It’s official. After months of speculation, United Airlines has unveiled a huge new aircraft order with Boeing.
The latest widebody order will eventually replace some of the carrier’s oldest Boeing 767 and 777 jets. Specifically, United plans to retire its entire 767 fleet by 2030. The 777 fleet will remain far beyond that, though some of the oldest 777-200s will be replaced with Dreamliners.
Citing “greatly improved maintenance and fuel burn economics,” United holds the option of whether to purchase 787-8, -9, or -10 aircraft
United CEO Scott Kirby believes this order solidifies United’s position as “flag carrier” of the United States:
“United emerged from the pandemic as the world’s leading global airline and the flag carrier of the United States. This order further solidifies our lead and creates new opportunities for our customers, employees and shareholders by accelerating our plan to connect more people to more places around the globe and deliver the best experience in the sky.”
Andrew Nocella, United’s EVP and Chief Commercial Officer, added:
“Our widebody fleet will be re-energized by these new 787 deliveries and further strengthen what we do best: connect people and unite the world with modern, customer friendly and fuel-efficient aircraft. United is uniquely positioned to capture international travel demand thanks to our global network, fleet size and gateway hubs. This combination represents a significant advantage for our business for years to come and another reason for business and leisure customers to choose United.”
More 737 MAX Aircraft
United is not just ordering more 787 jets, but also more 737 MAX aircraft. Today it exercised options to purchase 44 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft for delivery between 2024 and 2026 and ordered 56 more MAX aircraft for delivery between 2027 and 2028. The variants of the 100 new 737 MAX aircraft were not disclosed.
United Reaffirms Plan To Update Interiors
Additionally, United reaffirmed its commitment to update 100% of its narrowbody fleet with fresh interiors, including:
- a new signature interior with seat-back entertainment in every seat
- Bluetooth technology for easy connections between wireless headphones and the seat-back entertainment screens
- USB and electrical charge ports at every seat
- larger overhead bins to provide space for more carry-on bags
- industry’s “fastest available” in-flight WiFi
- LED lighting
United expects about 100 aircraft to be completed in 2023 with the remaining expected to be completed by the end of 2025 (none are currently completed).
United Airlines Hiring
To adequately address its growth over the next decade, United will add:
- 10,000 pilots
- 18,000 flight attendants
- 7,000 maintenance technicians
United’s Aviate Academy will be but one of many streams of pilots United hopes to place on these new aircraft.
United Airlines is in a growth stage and by the end of 2032 plans to take delivery of about 700 new narrow and widebody aircraft. This number includes an average of more than two every week in 2023 and more than three every week in 2024. While the 787 order is not a surprise, its number is on the high side and represents a bullish forecast for United’s future growth.