Customers have spoken and United Airlines has listened. Customers have overwhelmingly been requesting more flights on the Boeing 737 MAX, and as a result United has not only increased its 737 MAX order, but also moved forward the delivery timeline, so that more passengers can enjoy these planes sooner.
Okay, maybe that wasn’t quite the motivation for this announcement. 😉
United orders more 737 MAXs, moves forward timeline
United Airlines has just increased its firm commitment for the Boeing 737 MAX from 163 planes to 188 planes. With this:
- United Airlines has ordered an additional 25 Boeing 737 MAXs, to be delivered in 2023
- Not only that, but United Airlines has moved forward the delivery timeline of existing 737 MAX orders — five additional 737 MAXs will be delivered in 2021 (for a total of 21 to be delivered this year), and 40 737 MAXs will be delivered in 2022, in addition to the 127 737 MAXs coming in 2023 and later
United Airlines has ordered both the 737 MAX 9 and 737 MAX 10, though we don’t know the breakdown by type of the additional 737 MAX orders. I’d guess the orders that have been moved forward are for the 737 MAX 9, since the Boeing 737 MAX 10 program has been delayed to 2023.
United may eventually use some of its 737 MAX 10 aircraft for premium transcon flights, in which case these planes would get flat beds.
United has quite a few 737 MAX 10s on order
This isn’t surprising, but is kind of ironic
The 737 MAX has finally been recertified by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), so the plane is back in the US skies. Presumably Boeing is offering any airline a heck of a deal if it will either order 737 MAXs, or take delivery of them sooner:
- Not only have a lot of airlines and consumers lost confidence in the plane, but airlines are also trying to delay delivery of planes as much as possible in light of reduced travel demand
- Several airlines have gone out of business or canceled their 737 MAX orders, meaning there are quite a few planes ready to go; on top of that, Chinese authorities still haven’t approved the 737 MAX, so Boeing has a surplus of these planes
- In general Boeing likes the publicity of airlines ordering more 737 MAXs, hoping it will create more demand among other airlines over time
But that also gets at the irony of this, on a couple of levels:
- United Airlines has just received billions of dollars in taxpayer support, and even if the airline is getting a heck of a deal with favorable terms one has to wonder how exactly the airline can afford these at this point; this all comes as the airline asks for a third round of government support
- Unlike American and Delta, United hasn’t announced plans to retire a large portion of its fleet; while the airline will eventually have to renew its fleet, ironically the carrier’s fleet could be significantly bigger within a year than it is now
Will United retire some of its existing 737s?
United Airlines has not only increased its 737 MAX order, but has also moved forward delivery of dozens of these planes, with the airline now getting additional 737 MAXs in both 2021 and 2022.
I’ll be curious to see what the 737 MAX situation means for United’s future narrow body fleet plans. Presumably the airline will eventually retire current generation 737s in favor of MAXs, but immediate plans haven’t yet been announced for that.
What do you make of United’s Boeing 737 MAX order and timeline changes?