United Orders More Boeing 737-700s, Converts Widebody Orders

 - March 8, 2016, 9:42 AM
The Boeing 737-700 won a competition to replace 50-seat jets with new small narrowbodies at United Airlines.

United Airlines on Tuesday announced an order to buy 25 new Boeing 737-700s, dashing any lingering hopes by Bombardier that its C Series might soon gain a foothold with the influential U.S. network carrier. The order comes in addition to the previously announced order for forty 737-700s, placed last month. United plans to start taking delivery of the Boeing narrowbodies at the end of 2017.

The order follows with United’s strategy to increase the size of its offerings on regional routes as it continues to shed 50-seat regional jets. The airline said it expects its 50-seat jet fleet to shrink in number to fewer than 100 by the end of 2019.

Separately, United said it will retire its fleet of Boeing 747s from scheduled service by the end of 2018 and convert orders for Boeing 787-8s originally slated for delivery in 2020 and beyond into orders for four 777-300ERs and five 787-9s beginning in 2017. The order conversions, said the airline, will accommodate the accelerated retirement of the 747s.

“The new 737-700 aircraft are ideal for our fleet as we continue to reduce our reliance on 50-seat aircraft,” said Gerry Laderman, United's senior vice president of finance and acting chief financial officer. “Retiring the 747 fleet and replacing those aircraft with more customer-pleasing, current-generation aircraft creates a more reliable and efficient fleet that provides a better overall experience for our customers traveling on long-haul flights.”

Apart from the transactions announced this week, United holds firm orders for 35 Airbus A350-1000s, 153 aircraft from the Boeing 737 family, 10 Boeing 777-300ERs and 27 Boeing 787s. The airline also holds a firm order for 10 Embraer E175s scheduled for operation with United Express partners.