United Airlines announced the purchase of 270 new Boeing and Airbus aircraft - the largest combined order in the airline’s history and the biggest by an individual carrier in the last decade. The ‘United Next’ plan will have a transformational effect on the customer experience and is expected to increase the total number of available seats per domestic departure by almost 30%, significantly lower carbon emissions per seat and create tens of thousands of quality, unionized jobs by 2026, all efforts that will have a positive, ripple effect across the broader U.S. economy.
When combined with the current order book, United expects to introduce more than 500 new, narrow-body aircraft: 40 in 2022, 138 in 2023 and as many as 350 in 2024 and beyond.
United’s new aircraft order - 50 737 MAX 8s, 150 737 MAX 10s and 70 A321neos - will come with a new signature interior that includes seat-back entertainment in every seat, larger overhead bins for every passenger’s carry-on bag and the industry’s fastest available in-flight WiFi, as well as a bright look-and-feel with LED lighting.
The airline expects to fly the first 737 MAX 8 with the signature interior this summer and to begin flying the 737 MAX 10 and the Airbus A321neo in early 2023. Furthermore, United intends to upgrade 100% of its mainline, narrow-body fleet to these standards by 2025.
This order will also significantly boost United’s total number of mainline daily departures and available seats across the airline’s North American network, as well as the number of premium seats, both United FirstSM and Economy Plus®. Specifically, United expects it will have on average 53 premium seats per North American departure by 2026, an increase of about 75% over 2019, and more than any competitor in North America.
“Our United Next vision will revolutionize the experience of flying United as we accelerate our business to meet a resurgence in air travel. 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,” said United CEO Scott Kirby.
“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,” he added.
United expects to create approximately 25,000 well-paying, unionized jobs at the airline as a result of adding these new aircraft and, based on a study from the Federal Aviation Administration, the airline expects to drive more than $30 billion in traveler spending when flying United and contribute an estimated $50 billion annually towards the U.S. economy by 2026.
Stan Deal, president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said: “We are truly humbled by United Airlines’ confidence in the people of Boeing and the airplanes we design and build every day. Our strong partnership, dating back to United’s founding, has helped us grow and weather challenges through the decades. As we look forward to the recovery ahead, we are honored that United has once again chosen the 737 family’s performance, efficiency and flexibility to power their growing network. The Boeing team is excited to be building hundreds of these new jets for United and delivering on a landmark agreement that solidifies our future together for the next decades.”
For his part, Christian Scherer, Airbus 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. No other aircraft can do what the A321neo can do, and the Airbus team is most gratified by United’s strong affirmation of its premium status. The A321neo will complement United’s future A321XLR aircraft, together creating a privileged segment on its own.”
A significant number of the newly-ordered A321neo aircraft will be produced at the Airbus U.S. Manufacturing Facility in Mobile, Alabama. Globally, as of the end of May 2021, the A320neo Family had achieved 7,400 firm orders from 121 customers.