United Airlines could order a new widebody plane by the end of the year


United Airlines is reportedly negotiating with Boeing and Airbus for a large jumbo jet order that could be placed by the end of 2022.

Boeing 787 or Airbus A350?

Scott Kirby is a regular visitor to the United Airlines Pilot Training Center in Denver. As Seeking Alpha reports, it’s rumored that during a recent visit to the training facility, Kirby shared with pilots that United were considering a large jumbo jet order soon. In a pilot contract sub-forum on the airline pilot forums website, someone posted that Kirby said the airline would choose between the Boeing 787 or Airbus A350 aircraft families and that it would probably be a win-win scenario. Supposedly, Kirby added that the order could be for more than 100 planes, nearly the size of American Airlines’ entire jumbo jet fleet.

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At first glance, sticking with the 787 seems like United’s best option. Photo: Lukas Souza | single flight

United already has an order for Airbus A350s, originally placed in 2010. The initial order was for 25 Airbus A350-900s. In 2017, the order had been changed several times and the airline had changed its existing order from 35 A350-1000s to 45 A350-900s. In December 2019, United announced that it was postponing its first delivery of the A350-900. As of today, United still has an order for those 45 A350-900s, and rumor has it that United is prepared to factor in cancellation fees for the Airbus planes and Rolls-Royce engines, which power the A350s. Although Rolls-Royce makes engines for the 787, United’s current Dreamliner fleet is powered by GE engines.


Two other factors that work in Boeing’s favor are the cost of pilot training and maintenance costs. If United were to add the A350, it would be the second widebody type in the airline’s fleet, generating high training and operating costs. In addition, Delta Air Lines currently holds the maintenance, repair and overhaul contract for the Rolls-Royce engines that power the A350. If United took delivery of the A350, Delta would benefit.

New narrow bodies

Last summer, United placed the largest single airline order in a decade and the largest in US history. The order was for 270 Airbus and Boeing, divided into 200 Boeing 737 MAX and 70 other Airbus A321neos. At the time of the order, United had commitments for a total of 380 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, including those already delivered. The new order included 50 of the MAX8 variant and 150 of the larger MAX10 variant, which is still in production and certification. Last week, the first MAX10 was spotted in United Airlines livery in Washington state.


United has 150 MAX 10 aircraft on order. Photo: Preston Fiedler

United also revealed updates to its narrowbody cabins. Its new cabins will feature a 75% increase in premium seating, larger overhead bins, in-flight entertainment (IFE) at every seat and the fastest in-flight Wi-Fi in the industry. The new aircraft will feature the new signature interiors, and the existing aircraft will be upgraded by 2025.

Source: Looking for Alpha

Do you think United will order more 787s or add the Airbus A350 to its fleet? Why?

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