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United Places Order for 110 787 Dreamliner, A321neo Jets

United places big bets on long-haul aircraft

A United Boeing 787 over the runway in Amsterdam. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Fabian Behr)

Chicago-based United Airlines on Tuesday announced two new major aircraft orders. The airline will order 50 Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft as well as 60 Airbus A321neo narrowbody jets. The carrier also secured new options for up to 50 more Boeing 787s and new purchase rights for up to 40 A321neos at the end of the decade.

The order comes soon after fellow Star Alliance airline Air Canada ordered up to 30 of the type. Plus, the airline’s first A321neo recently rolled out of the paint shop in Germany and is scheduled for its first flights in December. New deliveries for this order will begin in 2028.

United’s Recent Massive Airplane Orders

A big order like this is no surprise for United. The airline has been adding a significant number of long-haul routes during its pandemic recovery.

While a big order is par for the course for United, it is important to remember the massive scale of United’s expansions lately. The carrier already has an order for up to 200 Dreamliners on the books, which it placed at the end of 2022. Adding 50 more on top of those options is a major vote of confidence in the airline’s international expansion and signals that much more is on the horizon.

“We have a unique position in our hubs for international growth, and I think international’s going to be really strong in the years to come,” company CEO Scott Kirby said in 2022.

Potential for Narrowbody Expansion

The additional A321neo aircraft signals that United likely isn’t limiting its expansions to long-haul international flights. While some A321s will replace aging Airbus family aircraft, some of which United started quietly phasing out this year, there will certainly be additional capacity to add flights to more destinations across the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and Central and South America.

United also has orders for hundreds of 737 MAX aircraft, meaning that it is not only looking to replace retiring aircraft. Should the airline be able to capitalize on these orders and market openings, it may have a solid shot at becoming the world’s largest airline across the board.

United’s Climate Targets

United plans to take delivery of 700 jets by 2032, combined worth $50 billion. All those new airplanes will put additional pressure on United to meet its climate targets, which are among the most ambitious in the aviation industry.

Calls to decarbonize aviation will certainly continue. These new aircraft are among the most fuel efficient on the market, but fuel efficient aircraft alone won’t match the targets United has set out. With massive new orders drawing attention to the airline, it will be under continued pressure to hold firm to its climate plans.

John McDermott

Author

  • John McDermott

    John McDermott is a student at Northwestern University. He is also a student pilot with hopes of flying for the airlines. A self-proclaimed "avgeek," John will rave about aviation at length to whoever will listen, and he is keen to call out any airplane he sees, whether or not anyone around him cares about flying at all. John previously worked as a Journalist and Editor-In-Chief at Aeronautics Online Aviation News and Media. In his spare time, John enjoys running, photography, and watching planes approach Chicago O'Hare from over Lake Michigan.

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