United Airlines will add 40 mainline aircraft to its fleet in 2019, the most since 2010.
While United will retire nine narrow-body aircraft this year (three 757-200s, two A319s, and four A320s), it will more than offset the retirements with the addition of 40 new aircraft.
The new mainline aircraft will include:
- 20 737 MAX 9s
- 8 Boeing 787-10s
- 2 Boeing 777-300s
- 10 Airbus A319s (used)
Not included in the count, United will also add 25 Embraer 175 aircraft for regional jet operations this year.
As a point of reference, United added 28 mainline aircraft in 2018:
- 10 Boeing 737 MAX 9s
- 4 Boeing 787-9s
- 4 Boeing 777-300s
- 3 Boeing 787-10s
- 4 Airbus A319s (used)
- 3 Boeing 767-300s (used)
The A319 Strategy
You might be thinking, why would United retire two A319s and four A320s but acquire 10 used A319s? The answer is that the newly-acquired A319s will have more “green time” or time remaining before the aircraft requires serious maintenance. It’s a clear cost-benefit analysis, as heavy maintenance checks or D Checks are often simply not worthwhile. As a side note, aircraft are often retried not because they are too old or too inefficient, but to avoid these regulatory checks that essentially require the aircraft to be taken apart then put back together. United will also salvage parts from the retried A319s and A320s for use in supporting the Airbus planes that will remain in the fleet.
United says the new aircraft will cut fuel costs and provide a better customer experience. Certainly the new aircraft will cut fuel costs, but I am skeptical about the “better customer experience” part. I’d take a 757-200 with lie-flat beds (or even EconomyPlus) any day over a 737 MAX 9. But when the 737 MAX offers a 20% cost per available seat mile (CASM) improvement over the 757, you cannot fault United for the move.
> Read More: Why Passengers Love United’s New Boeing 737 MAX 9