Roughly speaking Airbus makes the desirable narrowbody aircraft and Boeing makes the desirable widebodies. That was true before the Boeing 737 MAX was grounded, a huge blow to Boeing’s narrowbody competitiveness. However for most carriers the economics of the 787 and 777 outclass comparable Airbus jets.
The United Airlines fleet is Boeing for widebodies, and is currently split between Boeing and Airbus for narrowbodies – although legacy Continental Airlines executives, who had been in charge up until the ouster of CEO Jeff Smisek amidst a corruption probe, favored Boeing.
Airbus now is poised for a big win, as Bloomberg reports, because United is poised to order 50 Airbus A321XLR long range narrowbodies. Since the order is being reported at $7.1 billion we can assume it’s roughly half that. Deliveries would be slated to begin in 2024.
American Airlines ordered 50 A321XLRs to begin delivery in 2023 back in June.
This aircraft gives carriers the ability to fly between the U.S. East Coast and Midwest and Europe on an economical narrowbody aircraft, making it possible to serve routes that the 757 has operated but with a 25% lower unit cost.
With the deal, expected to be announced as soon as Tuesday, Airbus lines up another major U.S. customer for a model intended to replace Boeing’s out-of-production 757. The Chicago-based manufacturer has postponed deciding whether to develop a new jet of comparable size while it attempts to end the grounding of its workhorse Max, which was banned from the skies in March after two deadly crashes.
The A321XLR carries about the same number of passengers as a Boeing 737 MAX 10, but with longer ranges. These are expected to replace United 757s though not effectively 767s.