United Airlines Adjusts 737 MAX Orders

Daniel Fowkes
19 Apr 2024
· Aircraft 
· Airlines 
United Airlines has formally adjusted its 737 MAX order as it continues to battle 737-10 delays, Boeing problems and much more.

When publishing its first quarter 2024 financial results, United Airlines also unveiled updates surrounding the fate of its 737 MAX orders.

A Long History Of Deliberation

United Airlines has long debated its future with the Boeing 737 MAX, with the manufacturer encountering problem after problem.

These problems have impacted United’s ability to grow, replace its fleet, and much more. More alarming questions were raised when a door blowout incident occurred on an Alaska Airlines 737 MAX in the first week of 2024.

Not only was United impacted by the groundings that hit its 737-9 fleet, but the groundings and problems also ensured the slow delivery of more aircraft in the future.

Additionally, the carrier knew that taking delivery of the 737-10, a jet that is still uncertified, would be hard. United Airlines was forced to get radical and make tough fleet decisions.

Shortly after the new Boeing crisis began, United expressed its concern over the 737-10s’ short-term availability. In response, the airline removed the high-capacity variant from its long-term fleet plan.

Covering for the lost capacity would prove demanding, and leading executives said they would go away and assess options from Airbus and Boeing before making a firm decision.

What’s The Latest?

As part of its Q1 report, the airline published a fleet update with several adjustments to the long-term fleet strategy. These changes are deemed necessary to secure the airline’s future.

Additionally, United Airlines says that the fleet adjustments also come in response to the ongoing shifts in delivery timelines that have impacted the company for an extended period.

United converted a portion of its 737-10 orders for 737-9 jets from 2025 to 2027. However, the contract now allows United to convert further units. The further conversion would likely depend significantly on the overall certification timeline for the aircraft.

For the 2024 calendar year, United expects 61 narrowbody and 5 widebody aircraft to be delivered, bringing the total to 66 units. This is ultimately down from the previously expected 101 narrowbody deliveries alone.

Looking Ahead

United Airlines will rest its hopes on the converted orders of 737 MAX aircraft to mitigate some losses felt from the undelivered 737-10.

The 737-9 will provide adequate cover; however, United would ideally have been able to acquire 737-10s on time without the persistent hassles it has faced.

As an additional cover, United Airlines also agreed to letters of intent with two separate aircraft lessors for the long-term lease of 35 new Airbus A321neos. These planes will arrive in 2026 and 2027 as part of the continued response to the difficulties.

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