RICH THOMASELLI | TravelPulse.Com
Troy Warren for CNT
United Airlines this morning sent a message to the aviation industry – the pandemic is over.
The Chicago-based carrier announced it was placing the largest plane order in the company’s history and the largest order by any airline in the last 10 years, a clear signal that it believes the resurgence of air travel – from just 5 percent capacity at one point last year compared to 2019 to 79 percent this past week – will continue.
Operating under the tagline of ‘United Next,’ United will purchase 270 planes and will retrofit 100 percent of remaining mainline, narrow-body fleet to transform the customer experience and create a new signature interior.
That’s a roughly 75 percent increase in premium seats per North American departure, larger overhead bins, seatback entertainment in every seat and the industry’s fastest available WiFi.
And, as if placing such a huge order doesn’t signal the airline’s belief that the travails of the industry brought on by the pandemic are over, here’s another message – of the 270 new planes United will purchase, 200 of them will be Boeing 737 MAX jets.
The 737 MAX planes have been under fire since two separate crashes nearly three years ago killed more than 500 passengers and crew.
The other 70 planes being purchased will be A321neo planes from French manufacturer Airbus.
United will increase the total number of available seats across its domestic network by almost 30 percent per departure and replace at least 200 single-class regional jets with larger mainline aircraft.
The order is expected to create 25,000 well-paying, unionized jobs at United, significantly lower carbon emissions per seat and contribute an estimated $50 billion annually toward the U.S. economy by 2026.
“Our United Next vision will revolutionize the experience of flying United as we accelerate our business to meet a resurgence in air travel,” United CEO Scott Kirby said in a statement. “By adding and upgrading this many aircraft so quickly with our new signature interiors, we’ll combine friendly, helpful service with the best experience in the sky, all across our premier global network. At the same time, this move underscores the critical role United plays in fueling the broader U.S. economy – we expect the addition of these new aircraft will have a significant economic impact on the communities we serve in terms of job creation, traveler spending and commerce.”
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