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U.S. Major Carriers with 865 Aircraft Ordered in Three Years

Boeing to deliver more jets to the Big Three

A Boeing 737 MAX 10 on a test flight. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Katie Zera)

The past three years have brought significant changes in the airline industry. Airlines are looking towards the future for more fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly fleets. The Big Three have placed orders with both Airbus and Boeing to expand and replace existing fleets. 

United Airlines

According to UK-based aviation valuation firm, AviationValues, Boeing has won the majority of the order market share over the past three years accounting for 74% of the market share between the big three major carriers in the United States. Chicago-based United Airlines accounts for the majority of these orders, with 508 placed with Boeing alone in the past three years. The makeup is broken down between 737 and 787 aircraft. While United has shown that the carrier will operate a predominantly Boeing fleet, the Star Alliance carrier also placed orders for 130 Airbus A321 series aircraft.  

Delta Air Lines

While United currently dominates the industry in terms of aircraft orders, Delta has plans to grow its fleet with orders placed in the past three years. Since taking delivery of the carrier’s first A321NEO in 2022, Delta has continued to grow its NEO fleet. According to AV, in the past three years, the carrier has added 57 orders from Airbus to the books in addition to another 36 A220s. The Atlanta-based carrier also has 100 Boeing 737-10 aircraft on order which will enter the fleet beginning 2025. This brings the total number of aircraft ordered since 2021 for the Atlanta-based carrier to 193. These aircraft will build on and replace examples of an already existing fleet of 973 aircraft spread across Airbus and Boeing aircraft. 

American Airlines

American on the other hand has held strong with the orders the carrier had made in the past. In the past three years, the carrier has ordered just 34 new aircraft, 30 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft that were converted to firm orders in 2022, and an order for four aircraft from Airbus. Additionally, as reported in the third-quarter earnings call by Alaska Airlines, American will take delivery of ten Airbus A321neo aircraft bought from the SeaTac, Wash.-based carrier. These ten examples are not included in the number of aircraft on order directly with manufacturers. In August of this year, talks of a significant aircraft order to replace an aging narrowbody fleet were announced publicly as reported by ch-aviation. However, a solution has yet to be found and talks are still in progress to find a replacement. 

Orders by the three major U.S. carriers between 2021 and 2023. (Graphic: AviationValues)

Airbus currently has a backlog of 975 aircraft for North America alone. As for Boeing, in December of 2022, the Arlington, VA-based manufacturer had a back order of 4,758 jets. This is of significance because it determines how long an airline will have to wait before receiving an aircraft from the manufacturer. The larger the backlog, the longer the period of time from order to delivery is. 

Looking into the fleet future of the U.S. Big Three based on orders from 2021 to the present, United has an order book three times the size of Delta and nearly 20 times that of American. While all three have had orders placed prior to this time frame, United will see more jets arrive than America and Delta.

Zach Cooke


  • Zach Cooke

    Zach’s love for aviation began when he was in elementary school with a flight sim and model planes. This passion for being in the air only intensified throughout high school when he earned his Private Pilot Certificate. He then attended Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, earning his certificates and ratings to later flight instruct and share his passion for aviation with others. He now resides in the North East living out his dream as an airline pilot.

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