United’s A320 family order

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Edward Russell

United Airlines has an outstanding order for 30 Airbus A320 family aircraft. Who knew?

Anyone who read the Chicago-based carrier’s annual reports closely before 2012 probably did, as the purchase rights for 42 have been regularly disclosed since they were first deferred in the months immediately following the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks.

The fact came to this reporter’s attention after United cancelled purchase rights for 12 A320 family aircraft during the second quarter. This was first disclosed in Airbus’ orders and deliveries update for June and confirmed by the airline today.

The order dates to pre-merger United’s orders for the A320 family in the 1990s with delivery again deferred – this time indefinitely – with the right to cancel in January 2006.

The airline received its last A319s and A320s in 2002, Flightglobal’s Ascend Online database shows.

While few anticipate United to exercise any of its remaining 16 A319 and 14 A320 purchase rights, the airline demurs from such a rigid conclusion saying: “We continually review our fleet strategy and adjust our order book to fit the needs of our business.”

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