United Airlines is reportedly in talks with aircraft manufacturers Airbus and Boeing to buy wide-body, long-haul passenger jets to replace their 50-strong fleet of Boeing 767 aircraft.
European-based Airbus is expected to offer its upgraded A330neo jet against Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner in a deal potentially worth $14billion at list prices, sources have said.
And if United were to take up the reported offer for the A330neo, it could boost the fortunes of Airbus, which saw a major deal with American Airlines for 22 A350s cancelled last month.
In addition in March, Hawaii Airlines chose Boeing to supply 10 new 787-9 aircraft, dropping an earlier order of the A330neo.
And the fate of an order for 28 A330neos from IranAir is also in jeopardy after the decision by U.S. President Donald Trump to withdraw the United States from the international nuclear deal.
However, United Airlines spokesman Frank Benanati said he could not comment on any future deal with Airbus or Boeing.
He added: ‘We are always talking to our manufacturers about future fleet plans, but we won’t comment on the nature of those discussions.’
Meanwhile, Airbus Americas chairman Jeff Knittel said his company remained confident in the A330neo despite recent setbacks.
He told Reuters: ‘This is a marathon, not a sprint.
‘We are talking to a number of people as potential customers. We think the airplane makes sense and we are optimistic.’
He declined to say whether United was among the airlines with which Airbus is involved in discussions.
The Chicago-based carrier’s fleet already includes Boeing 787s, and the carrier has firm commitments for an additional 14 jets scheduled for delivery through 2027.
It does not fly the A330 family, the latest version of which – the A330neo – is due to enter service this summer.
Last month, American Airlines cancelled a major deal with Airbus for 22 A350s, announcing it has instead purchased 47 787 Dreamliners from rivals Boeing in a deal valued at $12 billion.
The airline said it had reached an agreement with Airbus to ‘terminate its order’ in an effort to ‘simplify its fleet’.