United Bets on Boeing 737 Jet to Augment Domestic Fleet


United Airlines plans to add 100 of newest Boeing Co. 737 Max jetliners to its fleet as the carrier’s revamped management team reveals new strategy for fleet overhaul.

United acquires new generation transcontinental plane to compete with Delta Air Lines Inc, American Airlines Group Inc., and JetBlue Airways Corp. Those rivals have acquired the Airbus SE A321 and it is expected to enjoy commercial success with an upgrade aircraft version and that prompted Boeing to develop the Max10.

Acquiring the United order for Boeing is bittersweet that formally launched its latest model in a shower of orders, confirmations and conversions of prior commitments. The deal now makes the Chicago-based airline the biggest customer for Max 10, and to get that status United converted some orders for the Max 9 that was earlier the largest of the new 737 family.

“It fits into this trend that these airlines are trying to accomplish, which is upgauging,” said Jack Atkins, Stephens Inc. analyst in an interview. “If you can add seats on a plane, you can reduce the unit cost.”

United Continental Holdings Inc. President Scott Kirby reviewed the network and fleet last year after joining the carrier. He scrapped an order for 61 Boeing 737-700s for short-range domestic flights, transforming them to 737 Max jets to be added at an uncertain date. Those planes were a part of this week’s Max 10 deal.

United, is the first U.S. carrier to opt for the Max 10, is now also the largest operator of the 737-900ER, the biggest of current generation jets of Boeing’s featuring narrow-body. Delta, the second biggest, said Monday it is also adding 10 more A321 planes to an order with Airbus.