United Airlines orders 50 new Airbus jets in latest hit to Boeing

The $7bn deal makes United Airlines the second US carrier to buy the new European jet after fresh US tariffs on Airbus.

    United Airlines is still working closely with Boeing on a potential new twin-aisle aircraft, its chief operating officer told reporters [File: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg]
    United Airlines is still working closely with Boeing on a potential new twin-aisle aircraft, its chief operating officer told reporters [File: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg]

    United Airlines Holdings Inc announced on Tuesday an order for 50 Airbus SE A321XLR jets to fly between the United States East Coast and Europe, becoming the latest US airline to sign a deal for the European plane maker's new passenger jet.

    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.

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    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. 

    Boeing Co is not building any more of the large single-aisle model.

    Instead, the US plane-maker has been considering a new twin-aisle plane, provisionally known as the NMA, but has delayed a launch decision until 2020 while it manages the continued global grounding of its 737 MAX jets following two fatal crashes.

    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: News agencies