United Airlines has split its much anticipated widebody airliner replacement program between the Boeing 787-8 and Airbus A350-900, ordering 25 of each and taking purchase rights on a further 50 of each.
The deal, valued at US$10bn (A$10.9bn), will see the new aircraft delivered between 2016 and 2019, allowing United to retire its 767s and 747-400s during the same period.
“The aircraft order follows a rigorous, six month request for proposal process, which resulted in agreements with both manufacturers, enabling the company to meet its financial and operational objectives and respond to changes in future market conditions,” a December 8 airline statement reads. “The breadth in size and capabilities of the different aircraft models ensure the company has the right aircraft for the right market throughout the fleet replacement cycle.”
United says the new aircraft will reduce its fuel costs and carbon emissions by around a third, with average per seat mile “lifetime maintenance costs” to be 40 per cent lower than for the aircraft they replace.