United Airlines is banking on a strong rebound in traffic

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For two years, the American airline has placed firm orders for a massive renewal of its fleet, with nearly 800 aircraft (including options) to be delivered by 2032. This renewal accompanies significant reinforcements on certain United Airlines regional networks, particularly on transatlantic routes and to France.

With a total of nearly 800 aircraft expected to arrive in its fleet within ten years, United Airlines is engaged in a massive renewal of its global fleet, as has rarely been the case for a single airline.

Three strong announcements in two years

These order announcements were made in three stages and began in 2021, even though global air transport had not yet completely emerged from the crisis linked to the Covid-19 pandemic. As part of its “United Next” development plan, the American company first announced, on June 29, 2021, a first mega-order for 270 single-aisle aircraft, the largest in the history of the American company. This order initially included 70 Airbus A321neo and 200 Boeing 737 MAX (50 Boeing 737 MAX 8 and 150 737 MAX 10). The second major aircraft order came on December 13, 2022. On this date, United Airlines formalized a new firm order for 100 Boeing 787 Dreamliners, with option rights for 100 additional units. On that date, the new long-haul Boeings were supposed to be delivered between 2024 and 2032, with a flexibility of choice between the -8, -9 or -10 versions to give United Airlines more flexibility depending on the routes operated. At the same time, the American company exercised option rights for an order for 44 Boeing 737 MAXs to be delivered between 2024 and 2026 and placed an additional firm order for 56 single-aisle aircraft from Boeing, for delivery initially scheduled between 2027 and 2028. The third major order came very recently, on October 3, 2023. On that date, United Airlines announced the firm order for 110 additional aircraft compared to the firm orders previously announced. United has thus converted option rights for 50 Boeing 787-9s, deliverable between 2028 and 2031, and 60 Airbus A321neo for delivery scheduled between 2028 and 2030. In total, United Airlines therefore has nearly 800 aircraft on order for deliveries. extending in theory until 2032. Even if the current tension on the production lines, both at Airbus and at Boeing, could cause a small delay in the time of fleet arrivals, the renewal plan initiated by United Airlines is considerable. In total, the American company is therefore expecting a total of 180 Airbus A321neo, including 50 Airbus A321neo Additional Boeing 787s, bringing the total to 790 aircraft.

A summer 2024 program of unprecedented scale

This very strong increase in fleet, alongside the replacement of Boeings 767 and 777s in United Airlines’ total fleet (with finalization of the exit of Boeing 767s planned for 2030), is accompanied by a significant strengthening of the airline’s flight program. American company on the most contributory routes.

For its 2024 summer program, United Airlines is already planning the largest transatlantic network in its history. “More specifically, our flight program between France and the United States will have capacities increasing by 30% compared to 2019, i.e. the pre-crisis period,” explains Grégoire Dutoit, France commercial director of United Airlines. From and to Paris CDG, the company will offer six daily flights: two daily flights to and from New York/Newark airport, two daily flights to and from Washington Dulles airport, one daily flight to and from Chicago O’Hare Airport, and a daily flight to and from San Francisco. Note that the second daily flight operated to Washington will take off at 5 p.m. from Paris CDG and will therefore be the last flight of all those operated by an American company to a US destination. Note that, alongside flights from Paris, United will relaunch its seasonal daily Nice-New York flight which will operate from March 30, 2024 to October 28, 2024. Thus, the start of its operation will be one month earlier than in the summer of 2023 and the end of its operation will occur one month later than in the fall of 2023. Finally, still accessible to French passengers, United will also operate two daily flights this summer from and to Geneva, to New York/Newark and Washington. From Paris, flights to New York will be operated by Boeing 777-200 or Boeing 767-300, as will flights to Washington. The route to San Francisco will be operated by Boeing 777-200 and the daily flight to and from Chicago will be operated by Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner. The Nice-New York seasonal flight will be operated by Boeing 767-300, as will the two flights departing from Geneva.

More generally, United Airlines will offer non-stop transatlantic flights between the United States and Europe to 38 European destinations, including the first and only non-stop flight between New York/Newark and Faro (Portugal), as well as as new flights to Reykjavik (Iceland) (relaunched for the first time since summer 2022), Brussels (Belgium) with two daily flights, Rome (Italy) (two daily flights) and Malaga (Spain) (up to one daily flight).The airline is also relaunching nine of its seasonal routes to Portugal (Lisbon, Porto and Ponta Delgada in the Azores), Italy, France and Spain up to two months in advance, showing that UnitedAirlines intends to maximize its loads on busy and contributing routes.

Alongside the transatlantic routes, United Airlines’ network capacity in the Pacific will increase by more than 30% with non-stop flights to fifteen destinations, including new routes operated between San Francisco and Manila (Philippines) and Beijing (China). . The US airline will also increase its Latin America and Caribbean flight schedule by 10% next summer, extending some of its newest and most popular routes into the summer season. It will notably offer new connections between Denver and San Juan (Puerto Rico), Denver and Montego Bay (Jamaica), New York/Newark and Barbados and New YorkNewark to Curaçao (Netherlands Antilles).

Traffic optimization applications

Finally, note that United Airlines has developed specific applications dedicated to families which allow children under the age of twelve to change their seat assignment at no extra cost so that they can travel close to an adult or their family, thanks to the help of artificial intelligence. The company has also developed an application called “ConnectionSaver” which allows certain planes to be “held” when passengers have connecting times that are a little too tight. The app was launched in 2019, but is not available from all United Airlines US hubs. It is, for the moment, accessible to Denver and Chicago and has already helped “save” 14,400 passenger connections.

In Chicago, Jean-Baptiste Heguy

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