United to purchase 100 Boeing Dreamliners — and maybe 100 more

Order means carrier expects to take delivery of 700 new aircraft by 2032, including an average of 2 every week in 2023

United Airlines announced Wednesday the largest widebody order by a U.S. carrier in commercial aviation history: 100 Boeing 787 Dreamliners, with options to purchase 100 more.

Airline officials said they now expect the carrier to take delivery of about 700 new narrow and widebody aircraft by the end of 2032, including an average of more than two every week in 2023 and more than three every week in 2024.

United, which is based in Chicago, counts Newark Liberty International Airport as one of its major hubs.

The announcement Wednesday is the latest in a series of plane purchases.

United officials said they expect to take delivery of the new widebody planes between 2024-32 and can choose among the 787-8, -9 or -10 models, providing flexibility to support a wide range of routes.

United also exercised options to purchase 44 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft for delivery between 2024 and 2026 — consistent with the United Next 2026 capacity plan — and ordered 56 more MAX aircraft for delivery between 2027 and 2028.

Additionally, United officials said the carrier is continuing its unprecedented effort to upgrade the interiors of its existing fleet. More than 90% of the carrier’s international widebodies now feature the United Polaris business class seat, as well as United Premium Plus seating — upgrades for the remaining aircraft will be completed by summer 2023.

United also will retrofit 100% of its mainline, narrow-body planes with its signature interior, with approximately 100 aircraft scheduled to be completed in 2023 and the remaining expected to be completed by the end of 2025.

United CEO Scott Kirby said the announcement matches the mission and vision of the airline.

“United emerged from the pandemic as the world’s leading global airline and the flag carrier of the United States,” he said. “This order further solidifies our lead and creates new opportunities for our customers, employees and shareholders by accelerating our plan to connect more people to more places around the globe and deliver the best experience in the sky.”

Stan Deal, CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said his company is eager to play a role in United’s growth.

“With this investment in its future fleet, the 737 MAX and 787 will help United accelerate its fleet modernization and global growth strategy,” he said. “The Boeing team is honored by United’s trust in our family of airplanes to connect people and transport cargo around the world for decades to come.”