Chicago-based United Airlines orders 50 Airbus aircraft to replace Boeing 757s

United said Tuesday that it is also deferring orders of the larger Airbus A350 planes

United Airlines signed an order with Airbus on Tuesday for 50 of the French aviation firm's A321XLR aircraft to replace its aging fleet of Boeing 757 jets.

The order was confirmed by United Chief Commercial Officer Andrew Nocella Tuesday evening.

United's order was a major hit from a US airline for Boeing, which has a new mid-sized airplane, or "NMA," currently in development. The NMA, which is intended to offer a replacement to the 757, with a similar range and capacity, has faced development delays as Boeing scrambles to fix its troubled 737 Max family of jets.

The 737 Max has been grounded worldwide since March 2019, following the second of two fatal crashes within five months.

The Chicago-based airline plans to fly the jets, single-aisle planes with extra-long range, to Europe from East Coast hubs Newark and Washington, it said in a release.

The carrier is the latest of several U.S. airlines to opt for the planes. JetBlue and American Airlines have both agreed to order some of the long-range single-aisle planes that Airbus is developing.

The decision comes as Boeing is hobbled by the crisis surrounding its 737 Max planes after two crashes, preventing it from dedicating more energy to designing an all-new middle-market plane.

Fuel-efficiency and increased range are enticing airlines to opt for smaller planes on longer routes as they seek to control their operating costs.

United said Tuesday that it is also deferring orders of the larger Airbus A350 planes.

The long-range A321XLR jets will replace United's 53 Boeing 757-200 planes beginning in 2024, the Chicago-based airline said, flying to cities like Porto, Portugal and other potential new destinations.

The deal, valued at $7.1bn before customary discounts, will replace its Boeing 757-200 jets that reach the end of their lifespan in about 10 years.

United's chief operating officer Andrew Nocella told reporters the airline has worked closely with Boeing on the potential new aircraft and is still open to orders if the plane-maker decides to move forward with developing the NMA.

"The new Airbus A321XLR aircraft is an ideal one-for-one replacement for the older, less-efficient aircraft currently operating between some of the most vital cities in our intercontinental network," he said in a statement on Tuesday.

Other US carriers, including American Airlines Group Inc, JetBlue Airways Corp and Spirit Airlines Inc, have agreed on orders for Airbus A320neo-family jets.

Among the benefits of the A321XLR is a 30 percent lower fuel burn per seat compared with previous generation aircraft, United said.

United has also ordered the larger A350 widebody jets but said it is deferring delivery of those jets until they are needed in 2027.

Its A321XLR order is the second for a US carrier following tariffs that the US is imposing on European-made aircraft.

Source: cnbc / Business Insider / Aljazeera

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