“It’s a sign that United is a savvy airplane buyer,” said Ron Epstein, aerospace analyst for Bank of America. “I’m certain they’re getting a good deal on Max’s. But If they didn’t feel reasonably good about the return of market for flying, they wouldn’t be doing it.”
United will use most of the jets to replace 200 smaller regional jets that carry about 50 passengers each, allowing it to increase capacity without adding flights at airports such as Newark and San Francisco, which limit each airline’s takeoffs and landings. It will also replace about 100 older full-size planes.
Including Tuesday’s orders, and previous orders it had on the books, United now has orders for 500 new jets coming in the next few years, with 40 due to be delivered next year and 138 in 2023 alone.
Plans to add 25,000 jobs
United plans to add about 25,000 jobs over the next five years to the 68,000 frontline positions it now has, hiring pilots, flight attendants, mechanics, gate agents and other staff needed to handle the increase in passengers it expects.
The airline cut about 22,000 employees last year during the downturn, although it has already recalled some of those employees to cope with a surge in leisure travel.
United also said it will revamp the interiors of all of its existing full-sized jets, adding seat-back entertainment systems, larger luggage bins and more “economy plus” seats that come with additional legroom — and higher fares.