United To Be Impacted By 737 MAX Problems

Daniel Fowkes
03 Mar 2024
· Aircraft 
· Airlines 
United Airlines has said it'll acquire hundreds of fewer aircraft over the coming years as it battles with continued 737 MAX problems.

In a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), United Airlines discussed the impact it expects following the persistent MAX problems.

United Airlines says that in 2024, it’ll acquire 102 fewer new aircraft, substantially impacting its growth for the coming years. Additionally, with delays this year, the knock-on effect will be more than felt in future years with aircraft.

Before the most recent delays, United had been forecasting substantial growth in several markets, with these new aircraft from Boeing deemed crucial in achieving that. However, now key executives say their growth goals won’t be possible.

The hope, best case scenario, is the delivery of 63 aircraft across this calendar year, down from the staggering 165 it had. The significant aircraft deliveries are part of the airline’s primary strategy of revamping its fleet and overall operation.

United Next, labelled as the initiative to streamline while continuing to grow, has been led by substantial aircraft orders placed in recent years set for delivery across a decade-long period. However, the speed at which United can complete this transition has significantly slowed as external factors impacting plane makers continue.

Boeing Problems Cause This

For United Airlines, the delayed deliveries aren’t because they’re in financial turmoil and say they cannot acquire the aircraft for fear of negative impact. The airline is battling with Boeing’s persistent quality issues that were highlighted at the beginning of the year.

Following the Alaska Airlines incident, several leading parties have begun thorough inspections on the American plane maker and issued orders to prevent production increases. These orders have impacted Boeing’s ability to produce planes while investigators understand why these quality slips keep happening.

737-10 Problems For United

However, for United and Boeing, it isn’t just the most recent quality issues impacting the ability to grow for the major airline. Boeing’s inability to get the 737-10 certified hurts United Airlines, which has a hefty order for the largest member in the MAX family.

As a result, the airline has to look elsewhere to cover for lost capacity in the A321neo or other MAX variants. Ultimately, these delays could cost Boeing additional business that it can’t afford to lose.

To understand the 737-10s place within United, expected deliveries across a multi-year period must be analysed. In 2024, the airline had hoped to take delivery of 80 aircraft, while in 2025, this figure would slightly drop to 71. After 2025, 126 aircraft will be delivered from this variant.

As part of the filing and the adjusted plans, the airline has wiped the 737-10 from its fleet plan. That’s 277 aircraft scheduled for delivery, which would’ve been necessary for the airline’s operations that are now unaccounted for.

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