United Airlines invests in long-haul fleet

United has ordered 35 Airbus A350-1000s
United has ordered 35 Airbus A350-1000s

United Airlines has had a busy week at the Paris Air Show, placing orders for 55 new wide-body aircraft as it modernises and expands its long-haul fleet.

Following an order for 20 Boeing 787-10 Dreamliners on Wednesday, in a deal that increased United’s total Dreamliner commitment to 65 aircraft, the airline completed another deal on Thursday for 35 Airbus A350-1000s. While only 10 of these are completely new orders, the fact that United has changed an existing order of 25 A350-900s to the larger -1000 model demonstrates the confidence United has in the future capacity needs of the long-haul international air market. In Wednesday’s Boeing deal, some of the B787 orders were also converted to the largest version of the aircraft.

Speaking on the occasion of the A350 order, United’s Chairman, President & CEO, Jeff Smisek, said the aircraft would allow the airline “to meet demand on larger, long-haul markets”.

The delivery of the new aircraft will also enable United to retire its older, more fuel-hungry aircraft such as the B747-400 and B767s. But while some carriers have accelerated their fleet renewal plans to switch to more efficient aircraft, United appears to be taking a more long-term approach. The airline has not opted to order more of the existing twin-engined wide-body models, such as the B777 or A330, instead opting to wait for the new generation of ultra-fuel-efficient jets – the B787 and A350.

“Advanced technology aircraft… are key to United’s future, enabling us to fly fuel-efficient, customer-pleasing aircraft that are the right size for many long-haul markets,” said Smisek commented, on the occasion of the latest Dreamliner order. “At United, we continue to modernise our fleet to operate our airline more efficiently.”

United was the North American launch customer for the B787-8 Dreamliner, and will also be the first US carrier to operate the longer B787-9 and B787-10. It is also first American airline to have ordered the A350-1000.

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