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United buying Airbus A321XLR airplanes to replace aging Boeing 757-200s

As long expected, United Airlines announced its intention to buy the Airbus A321XLR airplanes today. This will enable United to replace its vast fleet of the aging Boeing 757-200s.

The airline will be acquiring 50 of the new Airbus A 321XLR airplanes.

United’s transatlantic routes airplanes

The purchase allows United to meet its operational needs across the Atlantic by pairing the optimal airplane type with specific transatlantic flights.

The A321XLRs are much more fuel-efficient than the Boeing 757-200s. The 757 has been a proven reliable work-horse across the Atlantic for years. But the older technology and less fuel efficiency of the aircraft meant it was time for a replacement.

After the Boeing 757-200’s are replaced by the A321XLRs they will be retired from United’s fleet.

United Airlines Boeing 757-300 airplanes

united buying airbus A321XLR, B757-300 United Airlines
A United Airlines Boeing 757-300 in Chicago (ORD). Photo: CaptainJetson.com

It is unknown, however, if the airline intends to keep their Boeing 757-300 models flying. The 300s, although larger than the 200 models, are mainly used for United’s transcontinental U.S. flights, and not used for transatlantic flights.

United’s A321XLR routes

United anticipates its A321XLRs will be introduced into international service in 2024. The plane will be used on select European routes between United’s East Coast hubs of Newark/New York and Washington DC. United also says they intend to explore additional European destinations from these hubs when the airplane arrives.

VIDEO presentation of the old reliable Workhorse Boeing B757 versus the new Airbus A321XLR

As a Boeing 757 captain with thousands of hours of my life spent as a commander of the B757 I can testify to the fact that the B757 was one of the best-handling airliners ever made.

But, there always comes a time for technological progress. The timing of United’s decision to retire its B757-200 fleet was right. I believe that United, like other major US carriers, were hoping for the B757 replacement by Boeing producing the B797.

Now, with Boeing sorting out its next moves in the shadow of the 737 Max accidents the airlines had to resort to alternatives. Movement on the B797 aircraft project appears to have been placed on hold.

Here’s a video comparing the B757 with the A321XLR:

A321XLR versus the B757. Video: AirplaneProductions/YouTube.

The A321XLR advantage

United says the airplane features an elevated inflight experience. Modern amenities include LED lighting, Wi-Fi connectivity, and larger overhead bin space.

Fuel savings for the new airplane amounts to a 30% less burn per seat, compared to previous generation airplanes. This enables United Airlines to reduce its environmental impact. United has made a strong commitment to the environment. Their goal is to reduce the airline’s carbon footprint by 50% by 2050, compared to the 2005 level emissions.

United’s new airplane delivery timeframe

The year 2024 marks the first deliveries of the Airbus A321XLRs. In order to better align United’s operational needs, the airline has deferred its Airbus A350 orders until 2027.

United Airlines A321XLR comments

Andrew Nocella, United’s Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer said,

“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. 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.”

It’s always exciting when airlines order new airplanes. What do you think about United buying the Airbus A321XLR as the replacement for the B757-200 on some transatlantic routes? You can leave your comments here for the possible inclusion of your comments if we update this article in the future.

Featured Image: United Airlines.

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