United orders 50 B787-9s, 60 A321 neos, deliveries start in 2028

United Airlines today announced orders for 110 more aircraft for delivery beginning in 2028, building on the early success of United Next and adding additional flexibility for its long-term fleet.

United converted previous options and purchase right into firm orders for 50 Boeing 787-9s for delivery between 2028 through 2031 as well as 60 Airbus A321neos for delivery between 2028 and 2030.

The company also secured new options for up to 50 more Boeing 787s and purchase rights for an additional 40 A321neo aircraft at the end of the decade.

“We’re building a bright future at United and this order takes our already successful United Next plan into the next decade and beyond,” said United CEO Scott Kirby. “Our planning and focus on the long term have helped us surge past other airlines that stood still. I’m convinced our strategy is the right one as we continue to add new, larger aircraft to take full advantage of our growing flying opportunities both internationally and domestically.”

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United expects to take delivery of about 800 new narrow-body and wide-body aircraft between 2023 and the end of 2032.

Larger Aircraft to More Places

A key component of the United Next plan is growth in gauge, essentially flying larger planes with more available seats on the same route. Given that United currently operates out of the largest markets in the country – Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Newark/NYC, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. – up gauging also boosts overall connectivity domestically and internationally.

In 2019, United averaged 104 seats per North American departure, among the lowest in the industry. By 2027, United expects that number to jump more than 40% to over 145. United now has 180 A321neo and over 370 737 MAX aircraft on firm order through 2030, a combination that will drive the average seats per departure even higher on these larger aircraft, with even lower anticipated per-seat costs.

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Fleet Flexibility

United’s latest aircraft order starts at the end of the decade and can be used for fleet growth or replacement, depending on the demand and the economic climate at the time.

From a widebody perspective, the 50 incremental 787-9s that United ordered today will allow the airline to further simplify its international fleet – another benefit to customers and employees as well as an area of cost savings.

United is already the largest carrier across the Atlantic and Pacific. The airline now has 150 Boeing 787s on firm order – more than any airline in the world.

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