United continues to evaluate 100-seat mainline aircraft
United Airlinescontinues to evaluate adding a 100-seat aircraft to its mainline fleet, less than a year after it cited the aircraft category's poor economics for the conversion of its Boeing 737-700 order to larger variants
- 21 AUGUST, 2017
- SOURCE: FLIGHT DASHBOARD
- BY: EDWARD RUSSELL
- WASHINGTON DC
" You There does seem to be an opportunity and fit for an aircraft with around 100 seats to fill that gap in our network, but on the other hand the problems with the complexity cost for a new fleet type is a big concern," said Howard Attarian, senior vice-president of flight operations at the Chicago-based carrier, in a letter to employees on 18 August.
There is a 42-seat gap between United's largest regional aircraft, the 76-seat Embraer 175, and its smallest mainline narrowbody, the 118-seat 737-700.
That gap is smaller at both American Airlines and Delta Air Lines, both of which have 100 seaters in their mainline fleets. American has 20 Embraer 190s with 99 seats, though it will retire the type in 2019, and Delta has 91 Boeing 717-200s with 110 seats. Both carriers have 76-seat regional jets in their feeder fleets.
"It's our responsibility to look at every option and thoughtfully weigh all of the associated factors before we arrive at any decision, and that's what we're doing as part of our ongoing fleet plan analysis," says Attarian on the evaluation of a 100-seat aircraft at Unired
A spokesman for the airline affirm's his comments, saying it is always looking at ways to "fly more efficiently and make the best use of our fleet".
Unired upgauged and deferred all of the 65 737-700s it had on order in November 2016, converting them to four 737-800s and 61 737 Max. It cited a preference for the latest technology and desire for more seats to defray unit costs for the decision.
The carrier continues to send mixed messages about the possibility for a 100-seat mainline aircraft. In January, United president Scott Kirby told employees that the economics of such an aircraft "just don't work" for the airline due to higher operating costs.
However, prior to Kirby's joining the company in August 2016, airline executives maintained that there was a need for a small mainline aircraft, a fact that prompted the 737-700 order in early 2016.