Over the past several weeks, American has made some major plane orders. A few weeks back they placed an order for 47 Boeing 787s, and then just last week the airline placed an order for 30 regional jets, including EMB175s and CRJ900s. It looks like another major US airline is nearing a plane order.
United Airlines has about 50 Boeing 767s in their fleet, which are an average of 21 years old. These planes will eventually need replacing, though there’s not really a direct replacement for the aircraft, given that it’s a bit smaller than the 787 or A330.
Last October there were stories that a major airline — possibly United — was considering an order of 50-100 Boeing 767s. The passenger version of the plane is no longer in production, but since they still produce the cargo version, it wouldn’t be too tough to restart production. While I’m sure United could have scored a deal on these planes, that’s not exactly the most efficient plane out there nowadays in terms of operating costs per seat.
Now there are new rumors. Reuters reports that United is allegedly in talks with both Airbus and Boeing about the possibility of acquiring more Boeing 787s, or adding Airbus A330neos to their fleet. This deal will potentially be worth $14 billion at list prices.
United already has a fleet of 37 787s, including 12 787-8s, and 25 787-9s. The airline has a further 14 on order, though they’re the 787-10 variant. The airline doesn’t presently have any A330s in their fleet, so on one hand selecting the A330neo seems like an odd choice. However, Airbus has lost quite a few orders to Boeing lately, so I suspect United’s motivation here might be that they think they can score a deal on the plane. Hawaiian was supposed to be the first US carrier to take delivery of the A330neo, but they canceled their order in favor of the 787-9.
I’ll be curious to see how this develops. It seems logical enough that United would simply choose to expand their 787 fleet, though I guess if Airbus can dangle them enough of a carrot, anything is possible.
What plane do you think United is most likely to add to their fleet?
(Tip of the hat to @hankypankynyc)