With the purchase of 270 new Boeing and Airbus aircraft, the ‘United Next’ plan will transform the airline’s customer experience and is expected to increase the number of available seats on domestic departures by almost 30%, significantly lower carbon emissions per seat, and create tens of thousands of jobs by 2026.
With its current order book, United expects to introduce more than 500 brand new, narrow-body aircraft – 40 in 2022, 138 in 2023, and as many as 350 in 2024. That means in 2023 alone; United will add to its fleet a mindboggling one new narrow-body aircraft every three days.
The new order – 50 737 MAX 8s, 150 737 MAX 10s, and 70 A321neos – will have a new signature interior, including seat-back entertainment, larger overhead bins for carry-on bags, and the industry’s fastest in-flight WiFi.
The carrier expects the first 737 MAX 8 with the signature interior to fly this summer, while the 737 MAX 10 and the Airbus A321neo will fly in early 2023. By 2025, United also plans to upgrade all of its mainline, narrow-body fleets to these, a challenging retrofit project indeed.
The latest order will also significantly boost the airline’s total number of daily departures and available seats across the North American network, as well as the number of premium seats. The new narrow-body jets will help the airline increase its total seats per flight on its North American network by 30 seats (or almost 30%) by 2026.
“Our United Next vision will revolutionize the experience of flying United as we accelerate our business to meet a resurgence in air travel,” said United CEO Scott Kirby. “By adding and upgrading this many aircraft so quickly with our new signature interiors, we’ll combine friendly, helpful service with the best experience in the sky, all across our premier global network. At the same time, this move underscores the critical role United plays in fueling the broader U.S. economy – we expect the addition of these new aircraft will have a significant economic impact on the communities we serve in terms of job creation, traveler spending, and commerce.”
According to Andrew Nocella, United’s EVP and CCO, “We’ll deliver a better, more consistent experience, with more features for more customers, faster than ever. While some airlines are reducing the number of economy seats with extra legroom, United will offer the most premium seats in North America, taking a different, more customer-friendly approach.”