A Boeing 787 Dreamliner operated by United Airlines takes off from Los Angeles International Airport.
United Airlines is buying 100 boeing 787 Dreamliner with the option to purchase an additional 100 new jets that will fly its longer routes and replace less fuel-efficient and decades-old aircraft.
The massive order is a big boost for Boeing from one of its biggest customers and comes as United returned to profitability after the pandemic-induced travel slump. The carrier recently added more international flights thanks to a rebound in demand.
United said its order was the largest wide-body sale to a US carrier.
About 100 of the Dreamliners on the order will replace Boeing 767s and some of its Boeing 777s. Chicago-based United’s entire wide-body fleet is made up of Boeing aircraft. The Dreamliners are expected to be delivered between 2024 and 2032, United said.
United chief executive Scott Kirby said it was easier to buy more Boeing 787s than rival Airbus’ A350 wide-body aircraft.
“In this world where we’re trying to bring 2,500 pilots a year and grow the airline, introducing a new type of fleet slows down dramatically,” he said on a call with reporters. “And the truth is, the 787 is a better replacement for the  because it’s smaller.”
United had 63 Dreamliners in its fleet late last year, according to a safety filing, and is expected to number nearly 70 before 2023. Like other carriers, United was without new jets for months as manufacturing defects forced Boeing to suspend deliveries until last summer.
A shortage of planes due to supply chain issues and labor shortages has contributed to an increase in airfares this year.
United first outlined the order to pilots this fall, according to people familiar with the matter.
In a securities filing early Tuesday, the airline estimated its adjusted capital expenditures at about $9 billion next year and $11 billion in 2024 after the order. Executives have not said exactly how the airline will pay for the planes.
“We will have the luxury of actually using our cash flow to pay for these planes or finance them to the extent that we find capital markets financing attractive,” United CFO Gerry Laderman said on the media call.
The carrier is also buying 56 more narrow-body Boeing 737 Maxes and exercising options for 44 more, adding to an order for nearly 300 new single-aisle Boeing and Airbus aircraft placed by United last year.