United Airlines Holdings Inc. is poised to announce an agreement to buy a double-digit number of Airbus SE A321 narrowbody jets, according to people familiar with the matter.
(Bloomberg) — United Airlines Holdings Inc. is poised to announce an agreement to buy a double-digit number of Airbus SE A321 narrowbody jets, according to people familiar with the matter.
An order may be announced as soon as Tuesday, the people said, asking not to be identified discussing confidential negotiations. A purchase by United would add to the 120 A321s the US airline already has on backlog with the European planemaker. Airlines pay about $60 million each for new A321s after customary industry discounts.
United has been loading up on the largest Airbus narrowbody as the airline retires its aging Boeing Co. 757s. The carrier has also ordered Boeing’s rival 737 Max model. United has been one of the largest post-pandemic aircraft buyers and has said it plans to add about 700 narrow- and widebody planes over the next decade, and plans to hire more than 10,000 pilots.
Carriers across the world are locking in delivery positions for new aircraft, as Airbus and Boeing struggle to keep pace with demand spurred by the post-pandemic rebound in air travel. Backlogs at both planemakers now stretch past the end of this decade, and United’s continued orders ensures a steady flow of aircraft.
Representatives for United and Airbus declined to comment. Shares of the airline fell 0.9% to $41.26 before the start of regular trading in New York, while Airbus was trading 0.7% lower at 3:17 p.m. in Paris.
The A321 has emerged as the most popular variant in Airbus’s single-aisle lineup, with a backlog of over 4,200 jets. The model can seat as many as 240 passengers. United also has orders for an extra-long range variant of the A321 that’s currently in development will be capable of flying non-stop from New York to Rome.
United in December 2022 reached a multi-billion-dollar deal with Boeing that included 100 firm orders and 100 options for 787 Dreamliners, a move that will make carbon-fiber plane the mainstay of its long-haul fleet. The Chicago-based carrier also said at the time that it would buy another 56 Boeing 737 Max planes and exercise existing options for 44 more of the workhorse jet.
That order came about 18 months after United placed the largest single-aisle order in its history, agreeing to buy 200 Boeing Max planes and 70 Airbus A321 neos.
United had 21 Boeing 757-300s in its fleet at the end of 2022 with an average age of just over 20 years, and 40 757-200s averaging 25.9 years.
(Updates with share prices in sixth paragraph)
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