United Airlines’ Strategic Shift: Leaning on MAX 9 and Airbus A321 Amid Boeing Delays

United Airlines, one of the major airlines in the United States, is set to rely more heavily on Boeing 737 MAX 9 and Airbus A321 aircraft to pursue its growth plans. This strategic shift comes amid delays in the certification of the Boeing 737 MAX 10, which has raised new doubts over the aircraft's future. The airline's Chief Financial Officer, Mike Leskinen, announced this decision on Tuesday. The move comes in response to a mid-air emergency last month on an Alaska Airlines 737 MAX 9, which has further delayed the already postponed certification of the MAX 10.


United Airlines had previously ordered 277 MAX 10 jets with options for another 200. While the order has not been canceled, the airline has removed them from its internal plans. This has raised questions about the carrier's ability to grow domestic capacity by almost 30% by 2026 under its "United Next" plan. At Citi's industrial conference, Leskinen stated that the airline would not be able to grow as fast without the MAX 10. "What you're going to see now is much more MAX 9 and 321 aircraft," he said. The exact mix of these aircraft is yet to be determined and will depend on the prices.


Last month, Aero-News Journal reported that United had approached rival Airbus about buying more A321neo jets as possible alternatives to its MAX 10 order. Leskinen expressed deep disappointment with Boeing due to the aircraft delivery delays.

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The Chicago-based airline has options to mix some additional Airbus products into its "Boeing heavy fleet" and extend the life of some planes that are ready to retire. This strategic shift by United Airlines underscores the challenges faced by Boeing and highlights the increasing competition in the aviation industry.

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