United Airlines has signed an agreement to acquire 19 used Boeing 737-700, while the 737 MAX remains grounded by the FAA.
The airline will start taking delivery of the planes in December this year. It has not disclosed how old the planes are or from which airlines it is buying them. United’s current 40 737-700 can carry 126 passengers, using 114 economy and 12 first class seats.
This comes days after United Airlines extended its cancellation of 737 MAX flights to November 3rd, affecting around 5000 flights. The carrier originally planned to operate 30 737 MAX 9 by September 2019, but now has to rethink its short-term fleet expansion. United had already taken delivery of 14 Boeing 737 MAX 9 aircraft, before the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grounded the type and Boeing stopped deliveries. This came after a crash in Ethiopia in March this year, which occurred only months a similar deadly accident in Indonesia. In both cases, the crashed aircraft was a 737 MAX, killing a total of 346 people.
It is still unknown when the worldwide grounding of the aircraft type will be lifted, bringing uncertainty to 737 MAX operators around the globe. North American airlines with the 737 MAX in their fleet also include Southwest Airlines, American Airlines and Air Canada.
Despite operational instability and cancellations caused by the 737 MAX issues, United only recently announced a strong second quarter with a revenue of US $11.4 billion, a year-on-year growth of more than 6%.
United Airlines currently operates 329 non-MAX 737, consisting of the 737-700, -800 and -900, in its fleet spanning several Boeing and Airbus aircraft types. In January this year, less than three months before the grounding, the airline announced an order for a further 24 Boeing 737 MAX.
Jakob Wert is an aviation journalist from Germany. He built up the website IFN.news and is the Editor-In-Chief of International Flight Network.