Air Freight News

United Airlines in talks to buy at least 100 Boeing Max jets

United Airlines Holdings Inc. is in advanced talks for a large narrow-body order that would include at least 100 Boeing Co. 737 Max jets as part of a broader fleet revamp, according to people close to the matter.

The Chicago-based carrier is also speaking with Airbus SE about purchasing long-haul single-aisle aircraft, according to one person, who asked not to be identified as the discussions are confidential.

United sees an opportunity to upgrade its fleet and is studying several new, fuel-efficient models at a time when Boeing and Airbus are hungry for deals and demand for leisure travel is surging in the U.S., the people said.

Boeing’s portion of the order could include 150 Max, two of the people said. United ordered 50 of Airbus’s long-distance A321XLR model in 2019.

Max Comeback

The negotiations come as Boeing works to lift sales of the Max following two fatal crashes and a lengthy global grounding that still exists in some places, including the key growth market of China. A large order from United would be a boost for the U.S. aviation titan as it also tries to shake off the impact of the pandemic on its business.

To attract orders for the Max, Boeing has been offering some customers steep discounts, reduced upfront payments and other inducements that may not be available once global air traffic returns to more normal levels, one of the people said.

“We do not currently have a deal in place with Boeing or Airbus to purchase new aircraft and do not comment on speculative aircraft orders,” United spokeswoman Leslie Scott said. The carrier has turned its attention “away from managing the crisis of the pandemic and toward planning for our bright future,” she said.

A Boeing spokesman said the company doesn’t comment on customer discussions.

An Airbus spokeswoman declined to comment, saying any talks with customers would be confidential.

Boeing shares advanced 0.7% in the U.S. before the start of regular trading. United was up 0.4%. Airbus rose 0.2% at 12:04 p.m. in Paris.

Outgoing 757s

A deal with Boeing would expand on an order for 25 Max single-aisle jets that United announced in March. The planes could also help United retire its oldest single-aisle Boeing 757s, many of which date from the mid-1990s and burn more fuel than the newer generation jets.

United has 72 of the 757s, including 21 757-300s, a slightly longer version acquired by Continental Airlines from 2001 through 2004, according to Cirium data. United has 33 757s in storage, mostly the 757-200 variant.

The carrier flies the 757s to its domestic hubs and Hawaii, along with some trans-Atlantic routes from the East Coast. United plans to migrate those routes to the coming A321XLR, which hasn’t yet entered service. Deliveries to the airline are set to begin in 2024.

Other large customers like Southwest Airlines Co., Ryanair Holdings Plc and Alaska Airlines Inc. have been stocking up on Max jets at a time when Boeing is trying to restore confidence in its biggest seller. The manufacturer is looking to clear hundreds of undelivered 737s and 787s from its inventory, while filling delivery slots as it starts to speed up work in its factories.

Challenges in China

Southwest said Tuesday it struck a deal to take 34 more of Boeing’s smallest 737 next year, in addition to the 100 Max it ordered in March. The all-737 operator now expects to spend about $1.5 billion on aircraft next year, about $800 million more than previously planned, the carrier said in a filing.

A breakthrough in China remains elusive, complicated by a prolonged trade deadlock between the Asian economic giant and the U.S. China was the first country to ground the Max more than two years ago following a crash in Ethiopia, and it has yet to lift its ban.

Boeing Chief Executive Officer Dave Calhoun said earlier this month that China will account for about a quarter of expected growth in jet sales over the next decade once the pandemic recedes, but the rocky relationship between Washington and Beijing could threaten the comeback of the Max.

“It’s going to create real issues for us in the next couple of years if we can’t thaw out some of the trade structure,” he said.

Bloomberg
Bloomberg

{afn_job_title}

© Bloomberg
The author’s opinion are not necessarily the opinions of the American Journal of Transportation (AJOT).

Similar Stories

Lufthansa turns to 747 jumbos as German tourists flood Mallorca

The aircraft that broke down the door to intercontinental flying for the masses has a new mission: lugging as many German tourists as possible on the short-haul hop to Mallorca.

View Article
https://www.ajot.com/images/uploads/article/south-african-airways.jpg
South Africa sells state airline to private-equity venture
View Article
Electric flying taxi backed by United Airlines unveiled in L.A.

United Airlines-backed startup Archer Aviation Inc. unveiled its future electric aircraft in traffic-choked Los Angeles, one of the cities where the company anticipates it will one day shuttle customers to…

View Article
https://www.ajot.com/images/uploads/article/AirBridgeCargo_is_the_launch_customer_of_WFS_new_cargo_terminal_in_Atlanta_.jpg
AirBridgeCargo Airlines signs three-year contract as the launch customer of WFS’ new cargo terminal at Atlanta Airport
View Article
Flair Airlines begins service with the first of 13 new Boeing 737-8 aircraft

The growing ULCC starts passenger service with inaugural flight from Edmonton to Toronto

View Article
Airlines push for faster restart of trans-Atlantic travel

Airlines hit hard by Covid-19 sought swifter action to loosen restrictions on travel following pledges from the U.S. and the U.K. to reopen lucrative trans-Atlantic links.

View Article