United Airlines Holdings Inc is in advanced talks for a large narrow-body aircraft order that would include at least 100 Boeing Co 737 MAX jets as part of a broader fleet revamp, people with knowledge of the matter said.
The Chicago-based airline sees an opportunity to upgrade its fleet and is studying several new, fuel-efficient models, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the discussions are confidential.
The airline is seeking to renew parts of its fleet at a time when the likes of Boeing and Airbus SE are hungry for deals and demand for leisure travel is surging in the US, they said.
Boeing’s portion of the order could include 150 MAX, two of the people said.
The negotiations come as Boeing works to lift sales of the MAX following two fatal crashes leading to a lengthy global grounding that only began to lift at the end of last year and still exists in some places, including the key growth market of China.
A large order from United would be a boost for the US aviation titan as it also tries to shake off the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on its business.
To attract orders for the MAX, Boeing has been offering some customers steep discounts, reduced upfront payments and other inducements that might not be available once global air traffic returns to more normal levels, one of the people said.
“We do not currently have a deal in place with Boeing or Airbus to purchase new aircraft and do not comment on speculative aircraft orders,” United spokeswoman Leslie Scott said.
The carrier has turned its attention “away from managing the crisis of the pandemic and toward planning for our bright future,” she said.
A Boeing spokesman said that the company does not comment on customer discussions.
A deal would expand on an order for 25 MAX single-aisle jets that United announced in March. It could also help United retire its oldest single-aisle Boeing 757s, many of which date from the mid-1990s and burn more fuel than newer-generation jets.
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