Customers spoke and United Airlines listened. Customers have mostly requested more flights with the Boeing 737 MAX. As a result, United has not only increased the order for the 737 MAX, but has also extended the delivery time so that more passengers can enjoy these aircraft sooner.
Okay, maybe that wasn’t quite the motivation for making this announcement. 😉
United orders more 737 MAXs and moves the timeline forward
United Airlines has just increased its firm commitment to the Boeing 737 MAX from 163 to 188 aircraft. With this:
- United Airlines has ordered another 25 Boeing 737 MAXs, to be delivered in 2023
- Not only that, but United Airlines has postponed the delivery schedule for existing 737 MAX orders – Five more 737 MAXs will be shipping in 2021 (21 total this year) and 40 737 MAXs will be shipping in 2022, in addition to the 127 737 MAXs coming in 2023 and later
United Airlines ordered both the 737 MAX 9 and 737 MAX 10, although we don’t know the breakdown by type of additional 737 MAX orders. I would guess that the orders that were moved forward are for the 737 MAX 9 as the Boeing 737 MAX 10 program has been postponed to 2023.
United could potentially use some of its 737 MAX 10 aircraft on premium Transcon flights. In that case, these planes would get flat beds.
United has ordered some 737 MAX 10s
Not surprising, but kind of ironic
The 737 MAX was eventually re-certified by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), so that the aircraft is heading back to the US skies. Boeing is probably offering any airline a damn good deal by either ordering the 737 MAX or receiving it earlier:
- Not only have many airlines and consumers lost confidence in the aircraft, but airlines are also trying to delay delivery of aircraft as much as possible given the lower demand for travel
- Several airlines have gone out of business or canceled their 737 MAX orders, which means some planes are operational. Additionally, the Chinese authorities have not yet approved the 737 MAX, so Boeing has a surplus of these aircraft
- In general, Boeing likes to advertise airlines ordering more 737 MAXs in the hopes that over time this will lead to greater demand from other airlines
But that also brings with it the irony, on several levels:
- United Airlines has just received billions of dollars in tax benefits, and even if the airline hits a damn cheap deal on bargain terms, one has to wonder how exactly the airline can afford it at this point. All of this comes when the airline asks for a third round of government assistance
- Unlike American and Delta, United has not announced any plans to retire a large portion of its fleet. Ironically, while the airline will have to renew its fleet at some point, the airline’s fleet could be significantly larger within a year than it is now
Will United withdraw some of its existing 737s?
In addition to increasing the 737 MAX order, United Airlines pushed forward the delivery of dozens of these aircraft. The airline will now receive an additional 737 MAX in both 2021 and 2022.
I’m excited to see what the situation with the 737 MAX will mean for United’s future plans for narrow-body fleets. The airline is believed to eventually retire the current generation 737 in favor of MAX, but no immediate plans have been announced yet.
What do you think of the changes to United’s Boeing 737 MAX order and schedule?