The Chicago based United Airlines is planning to replace an ageing fleet of Boeing 757-200 aircraft with 50 new, medium-range Airbus A321XLR jets, Reuters reported on Wednesday.
Boeing is also based in Chicago. Boeing’s 737 Max fleet is still grounded after two deadly crashes in 2018 and 2019. The 737 Max was Boeing’s historical bestseller, and the grounding of the global fleet costs billions in lost orders and, increasingly, in litigations costs. United International also has fourteen 737 Max jets that are grounded.
Until recently, United’s fleet was almost exclusively Being-made: the 757, 767, 777 and 787 Dreamliner.
Wednesday was a turning point. United’s €5.9bn deal with Airbus is an additional blow to Boeing’s credibility. Boeing’s valuation continues to suffer as several whistleblowers are accusing the company of compromising security for the sake of expedience. At this time, Boeing has no aircraft that can compete with the Airbus A321XLR.
The new Airbus fleet will be delivered to United by 2024. The new Airbus model has a significantly longer range than the Boeing 737 Max and is gaining market share both in Europe and emerging markets.