United Air Turns to Airbus to Replace Boeing Mid-Size Jets

United ordered 50 A321 extra-long-range jets to be delivered starting in 2024.
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United Airlines, UAL one of Boeing’s BA biggest customers, placed an order for 50 Airbus EADSY A321 extra-long jets that will replace the airline’s fleet of Boeing 757 mid-sized jets.

United will retire the 757s. The new planes will be delivered starting in 2024, a move that the carrier says will enable it to explore serving additional destinations in Europe from its U.S. East Coast hubs in Newark/New York and Washington.

"The new Airbus A321XLR aircraft is an ideal one-for-one replacement for the older, less-efficient aircraft currently operating between some of the most vital cities in our intercontinental network," United Executive Vice President Andrew Nocella said in a statement. 

"In addition to strengthening our ability to fly more efficiently, the A321XLR's range capabilities open potential new destinations to further develop our route network and provide customers with more options to travel the globe."

The about $6.5 billion deal with Boeing’s European rival comes just months after one of United’s executives, speaking on an earnings call, implored Boeing to provide clarity about whether it would proceed with the production of a line new mid-sized aircraft. 

Boeing, at least publicly, did not respond to United’s request for clarity on the unofficially named Boeing 797.

And still hanging over Boeing is the grounding of the 737 MAX jet after a pair of fatal crashes.

Boeing shares at last check on Wednesday were up 0.3% to $354.09 while Airbus shares added 2.4% to $35.49. United Airlines shares added 0.7% to $89.52.