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United passengers will soon fly Airbus jets instead of Boeing aircraft

The airline has turned to the European company to replace aging Boeing 757s

Photo (c) huettenhoelscher - Getty Images
United Airlines passengers will soon be flying on Airbus jets instead of older Boeing 757 jetliners. The airline this week put in an order for 50 Airbus A321XLR aircraft.

Whether the airline would have considered the Boeing 737 MAX had it not been grounded was left unsaid, but it can’t be denied that Boeing’s problems have been good for its competitor’s business.

JetBlue and American have recently turned to Airbus when it was time to order new intermediate to long-range jets. The single-aisle jet is similar to the MAX and has an extended range, making it a versatile aircraft.

United plans to fly the new Airbus jets from its East Coast Hubs to Europe. They will replace its fleet of aging Boeing 757-200 jets that were produced between 1981 and 2004. At the time, it was the largest single-aisle passenger aircraft produced by any manufacturer.

Entering service in 2024

The new aircraft from Airbus are expected to enter service by 2024 for United’s transAtlantic routes from Newark and Washington.

"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," said Andrew Nocella, United's executive vice president and chief commercial officer. "In addition to strengthening our ability to fly more efficiently, the A321XLR's range capabilities open potential new destinations to further develop our route network and provide customers with more options to travel the globe."

The newly-designed A321XLR offers modern amenities that include LED lighting, larger overhead bin space, and Wi-Fi connectivity. An added bonus, says United, is that the new aircraft will be much more fuel-efficient.

Related to 737 MAX problems?

While Boeing’s loss to Airbus can’t be directly traced to its problems with the 737 MAX aircraft, it certainly can’t be ruled out. As the company struggles to get the aircraft recertified after two crashes in five months, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has suggested that it won’t be rushed into giving Boeing a green light.

Boeing’s chief engineer, John Hamilton, who led Boeing’s efforts to investigate the two fatal 737 MAX crashes, announced his retirement Wednesday. Hamilton, along with Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg, testified before Congress at two hearings last month, defending the company’s actions in seeking certification of the jetliner.

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