United to purchase 270 planes

An A321neo in United Airlines colors. Photo courtesy of Airbus.

United Airlines has announced purchase of 270 new planes — the company’s largest combined order ever and the largest order by a single airline in the past 10 years.

Beginning in 2023, United expects to add a new plane every three days on average.

The lion’s share of the order, 200 new planes, are a mix of Boeing models — 50 of the new 737 MAX 8 models and 150 of the new 737 MAX 10 models.

The remaining 70 plans will be Airbus A321neos, complementing an existing Airbus order for 50 A321XLR aircraft.

Airbus notes that “a significant number” of the planes for the United order will be built at the firm’s final assembly line in Mobile. Airbus has operated an A320 family assembly line in Mobile since 2015 and is one of the city’s largest industrial employers; it recently added an FAL for the smaller A220 line.

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United plans to fly the first 737 MAX 8 this year and the other two models by early 2023.

By adding to the newer models, United expects an 11% improvement in fuel efficiency and a 17-20% drop in carbon emission per seat.

“Our United Next vision will revolutionize the experience of flying United as we accelerate our business to meet a resurgence in air travel,” said United CEO Scott Kirby. “By adding and upgrading this many aircraft so quickly with our new signature interiors, we’ll combine friendly, helpful service with the best experience in the sky, all across our premier global network. At the same time, this move underscores the critical role United plays in fueling the broader U.S. economy — we expect the addition of these new aircraft will have a significant economic impact on the communities we serve in terms of job creation, traveler spending and commerce.”

United plans to add about 25,000 unionized jobs as part of the upgrade.

Commenting on the Airbus portion of the order, Christian Scherer, chief commercial officer and head of international, said, “Such a significant order from a great airline like United underscores that the A321neo offers unmatched capabilities, operating economics, and passenger friendliness.”

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