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United just ordered a record-breaking 100 Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft, cementing the largest widebody order in US history


United Airlines Boeing 787.

United Airlines

  • United Airlines has placed an order for 100 Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft, with options for 100 more.
  • The purchase is the largest widebody order of any US airline in commercial aviation history.
  • The planes will replace the carrier’s aging Boeing 767s and some of its Boeing 777s.

United Airlines is bolstering its Boeing fleet with another massive aircraft order. 

On Tuesday, the Chicago-based carrier announced an order for 100 Boeing 787 Dreamliners, with options for 100 more, marking the largest order of widebody jets by any US carrier in commercial aviation history.

United CFO Gerry Laderman told media during a conference call on Monday that the first 100 are considered replacement planes, while the options are “opportunities” to expand its network.

“United emerged from the pandemic as the world’s leading global airline and the flag carrier of the United States,” United CEO Scott Kirby said in a press release. “This order further solidifies our lead and creates new opportunities for our customers, employees, and shareholders by accelerating our plan to connect more people to more places around the globe and deliver the best experience in the sky.”

Deliveries for the new jets, which will feature Polaris business class, United premium plus, economy plus, and regular economy, will begin deliveries in 2024. The airline can choose from either the -8, -9, or -10 variant, which it says will provide “flexibility to support a wide range of routes.”

The order comes just months after Boeing was given the green light by the Federal Aviation Administration to resume deliveries of the 787 after production flaws grounded it for over a year.

Also announced on Tuesday is an order for 100 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, 44 of which were exercised options and will be delivered by 2026, and the other 56 are new purchases and will be delivered between 2027 and 2028.

United did not divulge any information on how much the order is worth, but Reuters estimates the total order value at $43 billion. However, for an order of this magnitude, it’s likely United negotiated a discount.

United told media in the call that that order will not impact its long-standing Airbus A350 order and deliveries of those jets are now not expected to start until 2030. The airline originally placed the order in 2009, according to Reuters. It then increased the number of A350 jets on order to 35 in 2013 and then again in 2017 to 45, where it currently stands.

The orders are part of the carrier’s United Next plan, which also includes a June 2021 order for 270 Boeing and Airbus narrowbody planes. 

According to United, total deliveries of narrowbody and widebody aircraft will reach more than 700 by the end of 2032, with 100 of the widebodies replacing old Boeing 767s and some Boeing 777s. The carrier told media that the company has not decided when the rest of the 777s will be replaced.

And, it won’t be long before United’s 767s are gone forever as the carrier announced the entire fleet will be retired by 2030, reducing carbon emissions by 25%, expanding cargo capacity, and offering more premium cabins, United CCO Andrew Nocella told media during the call.

The move follows American Airlines’ retirement of the type in April 2020. Delta initially said it planned to retire its 767s in 2025 but recently decided to keep them flying longer.

The order will help United expand its international footprint. The carrier already operates the largest network across both the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans, serving nearly 300 international destinations from its seven US hubs. In 2021 alone, United made its largest-ever transatlantic expansion to places like Amman, Jordan, and Ponta Delgada, Portugal.

However, the larger network will require more employees, with United saying it plans to hire 2,500 more pilots and 4,000 more flight attendants in 2023. Overall, the airline brought on 15,000 new workers in 2022 and plans to hire the same in 2023.

“We’re not just creating jobs – these are long-lasting careers that offer great pay, outstanding benefits, and flight privileges to see the world,” United EVP of human resources and labor relations Kate Gebo said. “And the best part is we’re actively hiring across every role at the airline.”

Read the original article on Business Insider