United Airlines is very interested in Boeing’s potential middle-of-the-market aircraft, says chief financial officer Andrew Levy.
“It has a lot of merit and, if they decide to launch it, we’d be very interested in considering it,” he says at the ISTAT Americas conference in San Diego today.
Boeing’s middle-of-the-market, or MoM, will be a twin-aisle, Levy says – the first confirmation of the specs of the potential new aircraft.
He does not comment on whether the airframer is moving forward with the unconventional "ovular" fuselage cross-section that had been speculated.
“We continue to study what that airplane would look like,” a spokesman for Boeing says. “We’re having very productive conversations with our customers and firming up opportunities there.”
United needs an aircraft to replace a range of mid-market aircraft, including its transatlantic Boeing 757-200s up to its Boeing 767-400ERs. Scott Kirby, president of the airline, said in January that the 767 is the only aircraft in its fleet that it does not have “line of sight” to a replacement.
The carrier operates 56 757-200s, 21 757-300s, 35 767-300ERs and 16 767-400ERs, the Flight Fleets Analyzer shows.
The long-range variant of the Airbus A321neo has emerged as a replacement for transatlantic 757s at other carriers. Aer Lingus will lease seven A321LRs from Air Lease to replace its 757s with deliveries in 2019 and 2020.
“The A321 does a nice job but it doesn’t quite meet all the needs we have out of Newark, that being said the 757 didn’t either,” says Levy on the A321LR.
He notes that United likes the commonalities of aircraft families, as it has with the Boeing 737, 787 and 777s. The airline does operate the Airbus A319 and A320.
Boeing is looking at a MoM aircraft that would seat between 200 and 270 passengers with a range of 4,800nm to 5,200nm using some of the composite wing technology that it is developing for the 777X programme. The power range would likely be around 40,000lb-thrust.
If the programme is approved, it would enter service in 2024 or 2025, the spokesman says.