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United to examine narrowbody fleet options in 2010

Fresh from placing an order for 50 widebody aircraft today, United is now focused on its narrowbody replacement options.

The carrier has divided its widebody fleet replacement between Airbus and Boeing, ordering 25 Airbus A350s and the same number of 787s.

Today during a conference call to discuss the order United CFO Kathryn Mikells explained the carrier took the decision to split its consideration between narrowbody and widebody replacements, and plans to focus on its narrowbody fleet next year. Mikells says United will make a decision it feels is appropriate regarding the aircraft.

The carrier plans to make a cash outlay of $152 million during the next five years for the 50 aircraft it ordered today.

During United's evaluations Mikells says the carrier weighed the additional cost savings it would net from a single fleet with the economics of having the proper aircraft to serve a diverse international network, and "the economics of buying both aircraft were straight forward and clear".

United president John Tague says the combined Airbus and Boeing fleet will give the carrier the flexibility to serve a broader range of international destinations while remaining disciplined on capacity.

Responding to question regarding United's flexibility in the aircraft agreements, Mikells says nothing in the arrangements precludes the carrier from considering another new-model widebody if another type becomes available during its widebody replacement.

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