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United Makes History: Places Largest Boeing 787 Order

The order is part of the carrier's global expansion plans and will see 100 aircraft delivered between 2024 and 2032, with the option to purchase 100 more

by Fergus Cole

December 13, 2022

Photo: Courtesy of Boeing Commercial Airplanes

United Airlines has inked a blockbuster order for 200 new planes from Boeing, making it the largest single purchase of widebody jets by a U.S. carrier in history.

The Chicago-based airline has ordered 100 Boeing 787 Dreamliners, with the option to buy 100 more down the line. The landmark order is part of the carrier’s ambitious plans to become a global leader in the aviation industry, called ‘United Next’.

Boeing is expected to deliver 100 widebody planes to the airline between 2024 and 2032. United will also have the possibility to choose from the three Dreamliner variants – the 787-8, 9, or 10 models – giving them the flexibility to pick and choose which aircraft will be suitable for different routes. 

Photo: United Airlines, Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. Courtesy of United Airlines.

Additionally, the carrier can buy a further 44 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft between 2024 and 2026 and another 56 between 2027 and 2028.

Under the United Next plan, the airline aims to boost its passenger capacity and flight frequencies significantly by 2026. And thanks to this Boeing order, it is expected to receive around 700 new aircraft in total by the end of 2032, including more than two per week in 2023 and three per week in 2024.

“United emerged from the pandemic as the world’s leading global airline and the flag carrier of the United States,” said Scott Kirby, CEO of United. “This order further solidifies our lead and creates new opportunities for our customers, employees, and shareholders by accelerating our plan to connect more people to more places around the globe and deliver the best experience in the sky.”

Stan Deal, president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, was similarly optimistic that United’s widebody order will help to expand its global network. “With this investment in its future fleet, the 737 MAX and 787 will help United accelerate its fleet modernization and global growth strategy,” said Deal. 

United Airlines 737 Max 9 / Photo: Courtesy of United Airlines

“The Boeing team is honored by United’s trust in our family of airplanes to connect people and transport cargo around the world for decades to come.”

Around 100 of these new planes are expected to replace some of United’s existing fleet, including the oldest Boeing 767 and 777 aircraft. In fact, United plans to phase out all of its 767s from its arsenal by 2030, in line with carbon reduction plans. The more efficient 787 aircraft also promise to reduce the airline’s overall fuel and maintenance costs.

“Our widebody fleet will be re-energized by these new 787 deliveries and further strengthen what we do best: connect people and unite the world with modern, customer-friendly, and fuel-efficient aircraft,” added Andrew Nocella, EVP and Chief Commercial Officer at United. 

United has also been making significant changes to its existing fleet of aircraft. Over 90% of its international widebody planes now feature United Polaris Business Class and United Premium Plus cabins, with all of its aircraft set to include them by the middle of 2023.

“Customers just love our Polaris products – from our airport lounges, amenities and seat-back screens to big seats that turn into beds, luxury blankets and pillows and plenty of room for storage,” said Linda Jojo, EVP and Chief Customer Officer at United. “We’re proud to offer customers more lie-flat seat options than all other U.S. carriers combined.”

Of course, it’s not just more planes that are part of United’s expansion plans, but more routes too. Over the last two years, United has added 40 new international routes to 13 new destinations, with more to come next year.

The airline now serves more than ten international destinations from all of its primary hubs – 78 from Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), 56 from George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), 45 from Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD), 41 from Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD), 32 from San Francisco International Airport (SFO), 18 from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), and 17 from Denver International Airport (DEN).