United Airlines has ordered 270 new airplanes from Boeing and Airbus, the largest order by a single airline in a decade, according to a statement from United early Tuesday. The order includes 70 Airbus A321neo aircraft and 200 new Boeing 737 Max airplanes, the type of plane that saw two crashes in 2018 and 2019 that killed 346 people but has since been recertified by the FAA.
The news of United’s massive order, first reported by CNN transportation reporter Pete Muntean on Twitter, comes as airlines struggle with meeting a surge in demand brought on by the end of the covid-19 pandemic. Competitor American Airlines has canceled hundreds of flights through July 15 over staff shortages and difficulties just getting planes in the air.
“United’s new aircraft order—50 737 MAX 8s, 150 737 MAX 10s and 70 A321neos—will come with a new signature interior that includes seat-back entertainment in every seat, larger overhead bins for every passenger’s carry-on bag and the industry’s fastest available in-flight WiFi, as well as a bright look-and-feel with LED lighting,” United said in a statement.
“The airline expects to fly the first 737 MAX 8 with the signature interior this summer and to begin flying the 737 MAX 10 and the Airbus A321neo in early 2023.”
The airline also plans to retrofit its entire fleet with new interiors, larger overhead bins, and faster wifi by 2025, an initiative the company has dubbed “United Next.”
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Boeing’s public statement about the order doesn’t mention the extensive troubles the company has experienced over the past few years with the 737 Max—including widespread speculation that Boeing would have to change the plane’s name. But obviously that never happened and Boeing is doing its best to turn the page.
“Designed and built in Renton, Washington, the 737 MAX family delivers superior efficiency, flexibility and reliability while reducing fuel use and carbon emissions by at least 14% compared to the airplanes it replaces. The 737-8 seats up to 189 passengers and can fly 3,550 nautical miles – about 600 miles farther than its predecessor – allowing airlines to offer new and more direct routes for passengers,” Boeing said in a statement early Tuesday.
“The largest model in the family, the 737-10 seats up to 230 passengers in a single-class configuration and can fly up to 3,300 miles. The fuel-efficient jet can cover 99% of single-aisle routes, including routes served by 757s.”
Will passengers willingly get on board the Boeing 737 Max, even after years of bad publicity in the wake of two deadly crashes? Almost certainly. People will literally fly Spirit Airlines if they can save a few bucks. Passengers will do just about anything.