Following the reporting of recent results, United Airlines has revealed a significant development regarding its future fleet and commitment to Boeing aircraft.
An Order Reconsidered
United Airlines is now considering a future without the 737-10, the largest member of the MAX series, following the continued issues at the American plane maker.
Scott Kirby, the CEO of United, says that frustrations with Boeing’s delays and persistent manufacturing issues are reaching breaking point.
Specifically, Kirby noted that the Alaska Airlines incident that saw a 737-9 door plug blow out was the “straw that broke the camel’s back” and thus made them firmly reconsider their future with the aircraft.
The 737-10 is ultimately an uncertified variant, and following a new focus on Boeing production practices, grounded aircraft, and an investigation, the likelihood of certification slips once more is present. Additionally, a timeline for 737-10 approval remains unclear as delays have continuously occurred.
United Airlines is the largest Boeing 737-9 operator and, thus, the largest company impacted by the ongoing groundings. Thanks to its large fleet, it’s been able to mitigate cancellations, and, more broadly, thanks to these other planes; however, its frustrations are growing.
The Alaska Airlines Fallout
Talk of United Airlines reconsidering its future with the 737-10 is part of the continued fallout following the Alaska Airlines door plug blowout incident.
As part of this fallout, more companies are included in the ongoing investigation, none more so than Boeing, for whom the NTSB and FAA are currently investigating.
A handful of weeks ago, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) informed Boeing that it would begin a thorough investigation into its company. This investigation would focus on understanding how so many quality escapes occur.
Meanwhile, customers’ trust further fell when Alaska Airlines said they’d be inspecting how Boeing produces aircraft and would also focus intensely on the aircraft being built for them to ensure the quality is high.
Airbus’ Chance To Pounce
Analysts and onlookers argue that the frustrations at United Airlines present an opportunity for Airbus to push forward and pounce on the struggles at Boeing.
However, Airbus’s long backlog and other struggles to deliver aircraft on time have also caused delays. In some cases, this has been directly attributed to why specific customers have turned down offers from Airbus in favour of Boeing, where delivery timeframes can be more optimal.
The A321neo series is now an aircraft United AIrlines flies, additionally, this variant was Airbus’ best-selling jet as further derivatives such as the A321LR and upcoming A321XLR provide customers with more flexibility over Boeing.