United Airlines has announced orders for a total of 270 Airbus and Boeing aircraft, as well as plans to retrofit all of its mainline narrowbody fleet with a new signature interior.
The ‘United Next’ programme will see the carrier take delivery of 50 B737 Max 8s, 150 B737 Max 10s and 70 A321 neos, all with the new interior featuring seatback entertainment at every seat, larger overhead bins, “the industry’s fastest available in-flight wifi”, and “a bright look-and-feel with LED lighting”.
The first B737 Max 8 aircraft with the new interiors are expected to be delivered this summer, with the B737 Max 10s and A3231 neos beginning deliveries in 2023.
United said that combined with existing orders it expects to take delivery of 40 new narrowbody aircraft in 2022, 138 in 2023 and “as many as 350 in 2024 and beyond”. The carrier’s existing narrowbody fleet is set to be retrofitted by 2025.
United also said that the orders would increase the total number of available seats per domestic departure by almost 30 per cent by 2026, and would boost the number of United First and Economy Plus seating across its fleet, to an average of 53 premium seats per North American departure by the same year.
The carrier’s B737 Max 8s will have 16 United First and 54 Economy Plus seats, while the B737 Max 10s will have 20 United First and 64 Economy Plus seats. United said that its A321 neo aircraft “are expected to have a United First and Economy Plus seat count similar to that of the 737 Max 10”.
Commenting on the news United’s CEO Scott Kirby, said:
“Our United Next vision will revolutionise the experience of flying United as we accelerate our business to meet a resurgence in air travel. By adding and upgrading this many aircraft so quickly with our new signature interiors, we’ll combine friendly, helpful service with the best experience in the sky, all across our premier global network.
“At the same time, this move underscores the critical role United plays in fueling the broader US economy – we expect the addition of these new aircraft will have a significant economic impact on the communities we serve in terms of job creation, traveller spending and commerce.”
Earlier this month United Airlines signed an agreement with Boom Supersonic to purchase 15 of the firm’s Overture aircraft, and in February the carrier formed a partnership with sustainable air mobility firm Archer Aviation to accelerate the production of short-haul electric aircraft.