United Airlines Unveils Historic Order to Purchase 200 New Boeing Wide-body Planes

United Airlines on Tuesday announced the largest wide-body order by a U.S. carrier in commercial aviation history: 100 Boeing 787 Dreamliners with options to purchase 100 more.

This historic purchase is the next chapter in the ambitious United Next plan and will bolster the airline’s leadership role in global travel for years to come.

United expects to take delivery of the new wide-body planes between 2024 and 2032 and can choose among the 787-8, 9, or 10 models, providing flexibility to support a wide range of routes.

 

United Airlines

United also exercised options to purchase 44 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft for delivery between 2024 and 2026 – consistent with the United Next 2026 capacity plan – and ordered 56 more MAX aircraft for delivery between 2027 and 2028.

The airline now expects to take delivery of about 700 new narrow and wide-body aircraft by the end of 2032, including an average of more than two every week in 2023 and more than three every week in 2024.

Additionally, United continues its unprecedented effort to upgrade the interiors of its existing fleet. More than 90% of the carrier’s international wide-bodies now feature the United Polaris® business class seat, as well as United Premium Plus® seating – upgrades for the remaining aircraft, will be completed by the summer of 2023. United also will retrofit 100% of its mainline, narrow-body planes with its signature interior – about 100 aircraft are scheduled to be completed in 2023 with the remaining expected to be completed by the end of 2025.

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Approximately 100 planes of the new widebody order are expected to replace older Boeing 767 and Boeing 777 aircraft, with all 767 aircraft removed from the United fleet by 2030, resulting in up to an expected 25% decrease in carbon emissions per seat for the new planes compared to the older planes they are expected to replace.

“United emerged from the pandemic as the world’s leading global airline and the flag carrier of the United States,” said United CEO Scott Kirby. “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.”

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

Driving Bottom Line Value

The firm order for 787 aircraft addresses United’s current widebody aircraft replacement needs through the next decade – their greatly improved maintenance and fuel burn economics will further United’s efforts to improve its overall cost profile. In partnership with Boeing, this order also helps United maintain flexibility with the timing of widebody aircraft retirements.

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At the same time, the 787 options allow United to continue to grow its global network and would help maintain the airline’s industry-leading margins in international flying among U.S. carriers.

“This order solves for our current widebody replacement needs in a more fuel-efficient and cost-efficient way, while also giving our customers a best-in-class experience,” said Gerry Laderman, United’s EVP and Chief Financial Officer. “And if the future of long-haul flying is as bright as we think it will be, United is able to capitalize on those opportunities by exercising these new widebody options – I look forward to the incremental margin and earnings these aircraft will generate.”

The exercised options for MAX aircraft are consistent with the 2026 capacity and two margin targets associated with the United Next plan. United also has started to build the order book for 2027 and beyond with the firm order for 56 additional MAX aircraft.

The Flag Carrier of the United States

With hubs in the nation’s largest cities, United provides strategic gateways to international destinations across the Atlantic, Pacific, and Latin America.

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In the last two years alone, United added 13 new international destinations, 40 new international routes, and extra trips to 10 existing international routes. This expansion includes service to London Heathrow, where the airline added five new daily flights, for a total of 23 daily flights planned for the summer of 2023, including an hourly shuttle there from New York/Newark.

United now serves double-digit international destinations from each of its U.S. hubs:

  • 78 via Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)
  • 56 via George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH)
  • 45 via Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD)
  • 41 via Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD)
  • 32 via San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
  • 18 via Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
  • 17 via Denver International Airport (DEN)
United Airlines

“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,” said Andrew Nocella, United’s EVP and Chief Commercial Officer. “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.”

Wole Shadare