It’s not every day that an airline decides to place an order for 100 new aircraft, let alone expensive widebodies, which United Airlines is about to announce.
The US airline, one of the largest in the world, now has an aging fleet of two-aisle planes, including Boeing 767s and 777-200s, averaging 25 and 23 years old, respectively.
There are currently 127 jets that consume a lot of fuel and do not offer as much comfort as more recent models. United’s dilemma, however, is in deciding between the 787 Dreamliner and the A350.
According to Bloomberg, the announcement is expect to take place by December. In August, Airline Weekly had already revealed that United Airlines was in talks with Boeing and Airbus, which Scott Kirby, its CEO, acknowledged at a conference this week with pilots in Denver, citing a “three-figure” order.
The Boeing 787 could be the natural choice as United now has 64 of these modern jets in its fleet, in addition to seven more planes to be delivered. However, the US carrier is also a customer of the A350, an aircraft of greater capacity and range. There are 45 firm orders that will begin to be delivered only in 2027.
If the airline decides to close an order with a single supplier, the scenario will certainly be bad for the loser. Although widebody sales are growing, the volume of orders is still far from what was projected years before the pandemic.
United, however, could pose as “King Solomon” and decide to split the huge order between the two manufacturers, which is a positive outcome for an airline that is already a customer of the 787 and A350.