United Orders 29 Planes, Including Four Boeing 787-9s

Filed Under: United

United has announced today a purchase of 29 new aircraft, including 25 Embraer E175s and four Boeing 787-9s. While 29 planes is a lot, when you consider that 25 of them are regional jets going to their regional subsidiaries, that’s not quite as exciting as it sounds.

United will take delivery of 25 new Embraer E175 aircraft in 2019, and will use them to replace 25 CRJ700 aircraft presently being flown by United Express. I’d consider that to be a positive development. While the planes have roughly similar capacity, the Embraer 175 is much more comfortable, and for that matter is one of my favorite narrowbody jets out there.

Then United will take delivery of four new Boeing 787-9 aircraft in 2020, which they say is part of their widebody fleet replacement strategy. I imagine that these will replace United’s oldest 777-200s. It’s crazy to think that United has been flying the 777 since 1995, so some of the planes are now pushing 23 years old.

As far as their 787 fleet goes, United already has 37 Boeing 787s, including 12 Boeing 787-8s and 25 Boeing 787-9s. United also has 12 Boeing 787-10s on order, which are higher capacity but shorter range than the 787-9s.

United says that these new 787-9s will feature their new Polaris seats. So at least we know some 787s will have the new Polaris seats within a couple of years. While United is making good progress adding these new seats to the rest of their fleet (including 767s and 777s), they haven’t yet started reconfiguring any 787s, and for that matter haven’t provided a firm timeline for when these planes will get the new seats.

United’s 777-300ER Polaris cabin

Long term United also has 45 Airbus A350-900 aircraft on order, though United will only take delivery of those between 2022 and 2027, so that’s still a ways off. Who knows if that order will ever come to fruition, as American ended up canceling their A350 order. That’s not to say that I think United will cancel their order, but who knows what market conditions will be like in 5-10 years.

While the regional jet order is substantial and makes sense, in the grand scheme of things an order for four Boeing 787-9s seems a bit random.

As a point of comparison, American has gone on a new plane shopping spree lately. In April American placed a firm order for 47 Boeing 787s, plus an additional 28 options for the plane. This will make them the world’s largest operator of the aircraft type. Then a month later American placed an order for 30 regional jets, including 15 Bombardier CRJ900s, and 15 Embraer E175s.

What do you make of United’s new plane order?

  1. I see more coming. UA has its earnings call on the 18th and they generally announce large aircraft orders the day before.

  2. Why is United so special? So many airlines bought planes at Farnborough, e.g. the new Taiwanese Starlux bought 25 A350. But you report on some United order for some 25 regional 70 seaters only.

  3. Unbelievable. And those POS 145s are still going to be flying around?? Order the damn CS series for the love of God!

  4. I love those 175s. Great ratio of first class and premium economy seats, good overhead bins, and 2 bathrooms that aren’t too cramped.

  5. @Jay

    I’ll take an ERJ-145 over a CRJ-200 every day of the week. The 200 is the plane UA needs to replace ASAP, along with the wretched 772 with 8-abreast in biz…

  6. Latest 787 orders:
    UA 4
    AA 47
    DL 0 (but 50 a330/350 few years back, and typical DL likely pre-owned 787 after more airlines are done with them)

    Scott Kirby needs to up his game.

  7. Very curious to see what United will do with the E-175s. Standard configuration is 76 seats but United is maxed out on 76-seaters per scope clauses. Since the new E-jets will replace CRJ-700s 1:1 they can only have 70 seats… perhaps United will mirror Delta and remove a row and add a closet?

  8. The cargo holds of the Embraer E-170/175/190/195 awful tight due to the low ceiling. It is a pleasure to (un)load a CRJ in comparison.

  9. @ RF — Tough to say given that this is still at least a couple of years out! Hopefully they start reconfiguring some other 787s before 2020.

  10. Was looking at HPN-ORD-HPN (regional route but a premium base on the HPN end) and I couldn’t believe it was a CR2. This would be a good place to start, embarrassing for UA to put the Devil’s Chariot on a 2:40 route (westbound).

  11. @Sam Roeker – Nice catch. Blast those darn unions. FYI, the contract is amendable in Jan 2019. So MAYBE Kirby got things right this time or this could be a disaster few months when talks with the union breaks down and cancels the E175.

    OR OR OR, Kirby back stabs investors/unions/Embraer before earnings call, by sealing the E175s BEFORE negotiating with the unions about the clause.

  12. @Lucky

    Many orders have been placed at the farnborough airshow so far, but we have not heard much on here. Can you post a list of all the orders placed when it is over? Would be cool to look at.

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