United Airlines on Tuesday disclosed a pair of orders for 200 Boeing 737 Max jets and 70 Airbus A321neos, marking the largest airplane commitment in the company’s history and the biggest by an individual airline in the last decade. Part of the airline’s United Next plan, which calls for retrofitting all of its remaining narrowbodies with redesigned interiors, the orders will result in nearly a 30 percent increase in domestic available seat miles by 2026.
The Boeing deal includes an order for 150 of the largest Max variant, the 737 Max 10, along with 50 Max 8s. The purchase increases United's Max order book to 380 airplanes, including 30 already delivered. As the launch customer for the 737-10, United placed its first order in 2017 by converting a firm agreement for 100 Max 9s to the larger Max 10 variant. The agreement announced Tuesday also includes the purchase of Boeing 737 Max training simulator data packages to support United's pilot training programs.
The Airbus order adds to existing orders for 50 A321XLRs, bringing the total commitment from the airline to 120 A321s. Airbus said it will produce a “significant” number of the newly ordered aircraft at its U.S. manufacturing plant in Mobile, Alabama.
United’s combined narrowbody order book now calls for delivery of 500 aircraft, including 40 next year, 138 in 2023, and as many as 350 starting in 2024. In 2023 alone, the airline expects to add about one narrowbody aircraft to its fleet every three days.
Plans call for the new airplanes to replace older, smaller mainline jets and at least 200 single-class regional jets with larger aircraft, resulting in an estimated 11 percent overall improvement in fuel efficiency and a 17 to 20 percent reduction in carbon emission per seat.
With the orders, United plans to concentrate on boosting its premium seat offerings, both in first class and premium economy. The airline expects its narrowbodies will carry 53 premium seats per North American departure by 2026, for an increase of about 75 percent over its 2019 offerings.
At its Newark base alone, United expects the number of departures on mainline aircraft to increase from 55 percent in 2019 to 70 percent by 2026.