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United orders another 25 Boeing 737 MAX jets to prepare for recovery

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·2 min read
FILE PHOTO: A United Airlines passenger jet taxis at Newark Liberty International Airport
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(Reuters) - United Airlines Holdings Inc has ordered 25 new Boeing 737 MAX aircraft to receive in 2023 and moved up the delivery of others as it prepares to replace aging jets and meet expected post-pandemic growth in demand, the company said on Monday.

U.S. airlines have parked and retired aircraft as the coronavirus pandemic sapped demand but are beginning to position their business for a recovery as more vaccines are distributed across the country and globally.

"With a number of our aircraft nearing the end of their lifecycle and the growth opportunities that we know will exist in the COVID-19 recovery period, this agreement will help us to grow as demand returns," Chief Commercial Officer Andrew Nocella said in a memo.

In addition to the new Boeing order, United said it has moved up delivery of 40 previously ordered MAX aircraft to 2022 and 5 to 2023, meaning it will have 94 new aircraft in its fleet over those two years.

Altogether, it has 188 orders for the Boeing 737 MAX, which was grounded in March 2019 after two deadly crashes. Regulators in the United States, Europe and Britain are among those who have approved the jet's return to flight.

Its total financial commitments related to buying new aircraft or spare engines or other aircraft improvements totaled about $24.3 billion as of February, 2021, it said in a regulatory filing.

United has 52 Boeing 777-200 aircraft which were grounded last week after an engine failure soon after one of its flights took off from Denver, prompting some potential scheduling headaches for the airline in the months ahead.

Shares in Boeing and United jumped in early trading, with Boeing up 4.7% at $221.91 and United up 3.8% at $54.72.

(Reporting by Sanjana Shivdas in Bengaluru and Tracy Rucinski; additional reporting by David Shepardson Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Nick Zieminski)