United Airlines Adjusts Boeing Fleet Strategy in Response to Safety Delays

by Alice

United Airlines has confirmed its plans to revise its Boeing fleet strategy following indications from CEO Scott Kirby earlier this year regarding potential changes to its Boeing 737 Max 10 orders. The announcement was made during the airline’s quarterly investment call, where it disclosed intentions to adapt its fleet composition due to certification setbacks.

Specifically, United revealed its decision to convert some of its Boeing Max 10 orders into Boeing Max 9 variants scheduled for delivery between 2025 and 2027, attributing this adjustment to ongoing certification delays. Additionally, the airline emphasized its flexibility, stating it retained the option to further convert Max 10 orders into either Max 8 or Max 9 models as circumstances dictate. To mitigate the impact of these delays, United also outlined plans to lease 35 new Airbus A321neos, set to be delivered in 2026 and 2027.


“We’ve adjusted our fleet plan to better reflect the reality of what the manufacturers are able to deliver,” remarked CEO Scott Kirby, addressing the strategic shift.


This development coincides with United’s disclosure of a projected $200 million loss stemming from operational disruptions following a mid-air incident involving an Alaska Airlines plane, leading to the emergency grounding of the Boeing 737 Max 9 aircraft. In its Q1 2024 financial report, United reported a net loss of $124 million, attributing this primarily to flight cancellations necessitated by the ongoing Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) investigation.


Despite these setbacks, United remains optimistic about its outlook for the remainder of the year, buoyed by a 9.1% increase in revenue and robust passenger demand. Notably, the airline has successfully reinstated nearly 80 Boeing 737 Max 9 aircraft into service following comprehensive safety assessments.

In light of recent challenges, United also announced the postponement of two upcoming international routes to the Faro Islands in Portugal and Cebu, Philippines, originally slated for launch this summer. Citing delays in FAA certification amid recent safety incidents, the airline assured affected passengers that they would be accommodated with full refunds or seamless rebooking options on partner airlines, devoid of additional fees.



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