United has divided its widely-anticipated widebody order evenly between rival airframers Airbus and Boeing, ordering 25 A350XWBs and 25 Boeing 787s.
The airline is also taking options to purchase 50 additional aircraft of each type.
At the time it issued its request for proposal United stated in no uncertain terms the deal needed favourable financial terms.
"One of our financial objectives was to ensure any aircraft order not impact the work we are doing to strengthen ourbalance sheet and improve our liquidity. The deal needed to drive strong economics to justify the investments, as well as provide fleet flexibility over the long term," says carrier CEO Glenn Tilton.
"This order very clearly meets those criteria. These new next-generation planes will enable us to reduce our operating costs, significantly lower our fuel burn, improve the onboard experience for our customers and our people, and enable us to reach markets we could not previously cost-effectively serve."
The carrier expects to take delivery of the aircraft between 2016 and 2019, and Tilton says United's cash outlay is minimal through 2013.