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AIRLINES United CEO kickstarts Airbus talks amid Boeing delays, sources say

United Airlines is exploring a change in its aircraft orders, having engaged in talks with Airbus regarding the potential acquisition of more A321neo jets. This strategic move comes as a response to the delayed Boeing 737 Max 10. United’s CEO, Scott Kirby, personally visited Airbus headquarters in Toulouse to discuss potential alternatives and strike a deal.

The uncertainty surrounding the certification of the delayed Boeing 737 Max 10 intensified following a mid-air emergency involving an Alaska Airlines 737 Max 9. United Airlines, in light of these concerns, is now in early-stage talks with Airbus to explore possible options and reach a mutually beneficial agreement.

While discussions are ongoing, there is no assurance of a deal at this early juncture. United’s CEO, Scott Kirby, voiced reservations about the Max 10’s certification delays, especially in the wake of issues with the Max 9. Although United has not officially canceled any of the 277 Max 10 jets in its order, they have been removed from internal plans, creating a gap that requires attention.

Neither Airbus nor United Airlines has provided official comments on the matter. The potential deal hinges on factors such as the availability of Airbus’s highly sought-after A321neo aircraft and the status of United’s existing contract with Boeing.

In response to the uncertainty surrounding the Max 10, Airbus is reportedly exploring the repurchase of A321neo positions from the market. The outcome of any potential deal will depend on the availability of A321neo aircraft and discussions regarding United’s ongoing contract with Boeing.

Boeing has expressed concerns over United’s discussions with Airbus, and the final outcome is likely contingent on Boeing’s ability to provide clarity regarding the certification timeline for the Max 10.

Airbus currently holds a dominant position in the bustling segment of the jet market with its A321neo, while Boeing faces challenges in delivering its larger A350 jets to United. The discussions between Airbus and United carry significant implications for both parties, influencing United’s existing A350 orders and Airbus’s market standing.

The ongoing crisis involving the Max series and broader questions about the aircraft market duopoly are anticipated to take center stage at the upcoming annual meeting of aviation financiers in Dublin.

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