While some worry that the COVID-19 pandemic might have long-term impacts on the travel sector, United Airlines is betting on the opposite. The airline just purchased a whopping 270 narrowbody aircraft to help grow their domestic fleet. While some of the planes will be used to phase out older aircraft, the airline projects to grow its fleet size by 200 planes.
The order was for a mix of Boeing 737 MAX 8’s and 10’s and Airbus A321 planes. The MAX planes have been recertified by the FAA as safe to fly, and United is betting on the plane’s larger models to increase seat capacity. This is partly due to the fact that United is hoping to increase its business class and Economy Plus sections, proving that the airline is expecting the number of business travelers and bigger-budget fliers to increase over the next few years.
“Our United Next vision will revolutionize the experience of flying United as we accelerate our business to meet a resurgence in air travel,” said United CEO Scott Kirby. “By adding and upgrading this many aircraft so quickly with our new signature interiors, we’ll combine friendly, helpful service with the best experience in the sky, all across our premier global network. At the same time, this move underscores the critical role United plays in fueling the broader U.S. economy – we expect the addition of these new aircraft will have a significant economic impact on the communities we serve in terms of job creation, traveler spending and commerce.”
With the new planes and growing fleet, United anticipates hiring an additional 25,000 employees. It’s clear that United isn’t worried about long-term impacts from COVID, and, in fact, anticipates rapid growth. And with the number of Americans who are planning travel for 2021, it’s apparent that United may very well be correct in their assumptions that travel is about to increase exponentially.