United to make major fleet decision by mid-year

United Airlines is looking at three options, none of them exclusively, to replace its ageing fleet of 757-200’s and 767-300’s.

The A330-900, 787-8 and Boeing’s new 797-x are actively being considered as 767 replacements, while the A321neoLR and 737 Max 10 are in the running for 757 replacements, along with the 797-X. The airline is hoping Boeing will confirm the expected configuration this year.

United is a very price conscious airline, happy with well proven older product lines than cutting edge aircraft with potential issues. The 797-X may prove too costly unless it has exceptional economics vastly superior to anything now flying, and a low purchase price. It may also be too far distant – the airline is looking at near term replacement, having determined the 757 fleet especially, is becoming too expensive to maintain and its fuel costs are now considered high for the type.

United’s fleet of 757’s are an average age of over 22 years for the -200 and 15 years for the -300. Its 767 fleet is nearly 23 years. The airline expects to replace aircraft by the time they’re 25 years old.

The problem for United is less domestic use but International. The 757 and 767 fly to destinations in Europe especially, the 767 Asia too. United either has to invest to extend their life or replacement.

While there’s been much praise for the A321neoLR, it’s not considered big enough to carry the required passenger numbers.

United also revealed its aged A320 fleet and its older 737’s are also up for renewal – United haven’t ruled out new A320’s, or 737’s but also added its actively considering the Embraer E2 and Bombardier CSeries.