United Airlines has ordered 50 Airbus A321XLRs, a long-range narrowbody that the carrier says it will use to replace older models and to expand on transatlantic routes.
The order, confirmed by Airbus, marks a major swing by Chicago-based United, which has otherwise filled its narrowbody order book only with Boeing 737 Max variants.
But in recent years United had expressed interest in acquiring a new aircraft type to replace its fleet of aging 757s. Aircraft under consideration by United included the A321XLR and Boeing's still-unlaunched New Mid-market Airplane.
United expects to acquire the first of the 50 new A321XLRs in 2024 and to begin international service with the type the following year.
A digital rendering of an A321XLR in United's colours
The carrier's chief commercial officer Andrew Nocella calls the A321XLR "an ideal one-for-one replacement in our intercontinental network".
"In addition to strengthening our ability to fly more efficiently, the A321XLR opens potential new destinations to further develop our route network and provide customers with more options," he adds.
Airbus launched the A321XLR, an ultra-long-range version of the A321neo, at the Paris air show in June. The A321XLR will have one large center fuel tank that will give the aircraft 4,700nm (8,700km) range, Airbus says.
The A321XLR will have 30% lower fuel consumption per seat than previous-generation competing jets, according to Airbus.