United Airlines is in talks with Airbus and Boeing for huge aircraft orders, that eclipse the few post-Covid-19 pandemic deals that have been struck so far.
The combined orders could be as many as 300 units. Boeing stands to capture the lion’s share, Airfinance Journal learned. Negotiations with Boeing include as many as 250 737 MAXes and 787s, with the bulk of them for the former.
Airbus is in talks for a follow-on order for A321neos, which would round out the final gross number, industry sources indicate.
If confirmed, the deal could include 60-plus Airbus A321neos, the sources said, asking not to be identified.
Airfinance Journal understands a double-digit order for 787 aircraft was expected to be included as part of the Max order. However, it is possible that Boeing ended up relenting on the widebody order due to the Airbus Neo competition, sources add.
"We do not currently have a deal in place with Boeing or Airbus to purchase new aircraft and do not comment on speculative aircraft orders," said a United spokesperson via email. "We have, for months now, turned our attention away from managing the crisis of the pandemic and toward planning for our bright future. Those plans include thinking about how to harness the power of the best, mid-continent hubs in the industry, capitalising on the financial benefits of increasing the gauge of our fleet and, most importantly, building on the significant improvements in our customers’ experience."
A Boeing spokesperson said the company does not comment on customer discussions.
Airbus was unavailable for comment at press time.
United Airlines topped up its Boeing 737 Max orderbook earlier this year, bringing its total to 180 units.
The Chicago-based airline entered into an agreement with Boeing on 26 February for a firm order of 25 737 Max aircraft for delivery in 2023. It also accelerated the delivery of 45 737 Max units, with 40 scheduled for delivery in 2022 and five Max units into 2023.
This month the carrier signed another sale and leaseback (SLB) agreement, covering three 737 Max 8s, with CDB Aviation.
According to a CDB Aviation filing with the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, this is in addition to the SLB transaction signed in September 2020 by the two parties.
On 22 September 2020, CDB Aviation agreed to purchase and lease back 12 new aircraft from United Airlines.
The deal comprises two 787-9 aircraft and 10 737 Max 8 aircraft.
The 15 aircraft will be leased back by the lessor to United under an operating lease agreement upon their deliveries in 2021, the filing added.
United is due to purchase 11 used Boeing 737-700 aircraft with delivery dates scheduled for this year, according to a separate 10K filing with the SEC. The carrier also agreed to purchase 17 used Airbus A319 aircraft, which it intends to sell, with expected delivery dates in 2021 and 2022.