United Airlines has been visionary in striking deals on sustainable aircraft like the electric model ES-19 or the supersonic Overture, but the US carrier has a short-term issue of replacing its aging widebodies.
Currently, 128 Boeing 767 and 777 aircraft are over 20 years old and the airline does not have any long-haul aircraft orders in view, with the exception of eight 787 Dreamliners pending delivery by Boeing, and 45 A350-900s, but which Airbus will only start deliveries in 2027.
Therefore, United would already be studying a new order for large aircraft, according to the Airline Weekly. As usual, Boeing and Airbus are being consulted, but models and number of aircraft are not known.
Despite this, it is quite evident that the A350 and 787 are being considered, due to their more similar performance to the 767 and 777-200.
The long-range fleet of United Airlines currently has 22 very new Boeing 777-300ERs, in addition to a large fleet of Dreamliners – 63 aircraft, 12 787-8, 38 787-9 and 13 787-10.
However, these planes cannot fill the gap that will be left by the 767, whose smaller capacity fits into less demanding routes.
The 777-200, of which United has 74 aircraft, and the 767-400, could be replaced by the 787-10 with a maximum take-off weight raised to 260 tons and thus offering greater autonomy, something that Boeing is about to launch in the market.
In this sense, the A350-900 already offers sufficient performance for routes between the US and Asia or Europe.
The potential order gained new momentum recently with the FAA’s clearance of 787 deliveries, which would allow United to plan for a fleet renewal.
Sought by Airline Weekly, the companies did not comment on the matter.