United Airlines orders record 200 Boeing 787 Dreamliners


United Airlines ordered a record 200 Boeing 787 Dreamliners

Photo: united.mediaroom.com

United said it had signed an order for 100 of the latest Boeing 787 Dreamliners, with an option for 100 more. The package will include all three modifications of the liner: 787–8, –9 and –10. Moreover, United says that it will choose a specific configuration as each unit is launched into production. The airline currently operates all types of aircraft.

The contract comes almost a year and a half after United placed orders with Boeing and Airbus for a total of 270 narrow-body aircraft, which it says is also the largest order in its history.

United's current fleet of Boeing 767s is aging along with its 777 wide-bodied aircraft, and Dreamliners are set to replace them. All 767s should be fully retired by 2030.

According to the terms of delivery, United will receive new aircraft from 2024 to 2032. During the same 10-year period, about 12 wide-body aircraft 767 and 777 will have time to “grow old” up to 30 years old. “It's time to start thinking about decommissioning these aircraft. Thus, 100 firm orders for “Dreamliners” will replace 767 and some 777s, — the airline says.

Thus, by 2030, more than 80 percent of United Airlines long-haul flights will be operated on the 787 platform. This should increase the reliability and comfort of flights.

It is not yet clear what the future holds for United's previous order from Airbus for the wide-body A350 — a direct competitor, by the way, to the 787. United is currently signed on for 45 A350-900s under a 2017 contract. Earlier, in 2010, 35 larger A350-1000 aircraft were ordered. For the time being, Airbus deliveries are suspended until 2030.

Experts note that United is already the operator of the 787, and the economic feasibility of attracting another type of fleet does not make sense.

United plans to operate the new 787 in three-cabin configuration, with Polaris Business Class, Premium Plus Economy and Regular Economy Class including seats with extra legroom. There are currently no plans to replace the business class cabin with a new seating design, but this may change before the order is fully delivered.

The airline has also expanded its order book for Boeing narrow-body aircraft to include 44 737 MAX aircraft between 2024 and 2026 and 56 new MAX modifications to be delivered between 2026 and 2028. Overall, United has ordered about 700 new aircraft for delivery through 2032, the airline said in a press release. More than two aircraft per week are expected to be delivered on average next year, and in 2024 — three a week.

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