United Airlines announced today (Dec. 13) it has booked a 200-plane order with Boeing, split evenly between 737 Maxes and 787 Dreamliners. The order is pegged at $43 billion and is said to support post-pandemic growth at the airline, replacing older, less-fuel-efficient aircraft.
The Max order actually includes 44 aircraft that were included as now-exercised options from an earlier order. Those will be delivered in the 2024 to 2026 time frame, while the remaining new-order aircraft will be turned over in 2027 and 2028. United currently has orders for a total of 443 Maxes, according to a Reuters report.
The 787 Dreamliner order reflects United’s confidence in a resurgence of international long-haul travel. The largely composite Dreamliner offers greater passenger comfort on long flights due to lower cabin altitudes and greater cabin humidity levels, both enabled, in part, by the composite airframe components.
Deliveries of the Dreamliners are expected to stretch out from 2024 to 2032 and will include 787-8, -9 and -10 variants. United CEO Scott Kirby said one part of the decision to go with Boeing products is the effect of fleet commonality on pilot training, both initial and recurrent. United already has a substantial 787 fleet, and he said, “When we’re trying to bring on 2,500 pilots a year and grow the airline, introducing a new fleet type slows that down dramatically.”
United plans to replace its entire 767 fleet with 787s by 2030 as well as cutting into the number of 777s. Resulting increases in fuel efficiency will not only save the airline money but also reduce per-seat carbon emissions per seat by about 25 percent across the board, according to United.