United Airlines is still out shopping for a new 100-seat mainline aircraft, following its order for 40 new Boeing 737-700s today.
“We are continuing to pursue additional aircraft to continue upgauging and meet our capacity plans,” says Gerry Laderman, acting chief financial officer of the Chicago-based carrier, during an earnings call today.
United considered the Airbus A319, Boeing 737-700 and 100-seat models from both Bombardier and Embraer – likely the airframers’ respective CS100 and E190 or E195 – for the order it placed today, he says. While the 737 won this order “batch”, all of the models remain on the table.
“We will continue to look at [all] those aircraft types going forward,” says Laderman.
His comments are a much needed break for Bombardier, who many in the industry see as in desperate need of a flagship CSeries order from a carrier like United or Delta Air Lines to maintain the programme.
Richard Anderson, chairman and chief executive of Atlanta-based Delta, said on 19 January the airline was giving the CSeries a “serious look” after he and other senior executives toured the aircraft in December.
United executives toured the CS100 when it visited the airline’s Chicago O’Hare base in November.
Laderman has previously said that there is a need for at least 30 narrowbodies with around 100 seats in United’s mainline fleet.
As an added bonus, United would be able to add up to 35 additional 76-seat regional jets to its feeder fleet with the addition of either the CS100 or either Embraer types under the scope clause provisions in its pilots contract.
United will use the 737-700s ordered today and the potential 100-seat aircraft order to replace 50-seat regional jets and upgauge its fleet. It plans to remove “more than half” of the small jets in its feeder fleet by 2019.
The airline had about 250 50-seat regional jets at the end of 2015, putting its 2019 target count at less than 125 of the type.
United is also leasing 11 used A319s from AerCap for the upgauging programme. The first nine of these will join the fleet in 2016.