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United Airlines Adjusts Aircraft Delivery Plans Amid Boeing Delays

United plans to lease 35 Airbus A321neos for 2026 and 2027, further diversifying its fleet amid Boeing's production caps.

United Airlines announced on Tuesday a significant reduction in its aircraft delivery expectations for the year, citing ongoing delays from Boeing as the primary cause. Initially anticipating the arrival of 101 new narrow-body planes, the airline has adjusted this number to 61.

This change comes amidst a backdrop of challenges and scrutiny facing Boeing, affecting airlines' growth strategies.

Strategic Shifts and Financial Impact

CNBC reported that in response to the delivery delays and to accommodate future growth plans, United's CEO Scott Kirby said that they've adjusted their fleet plan to better reflect the reality of what the manufacturers can deliver. Part of this strategy includes capitalizing on the airline's unique positioning by expanding its mid-continent hubs and international network from its coastal hubs.

Additionally, United plans to lease 35 Airbus A321neos for 2026 and 2027, further diversifying its fleet amid Boeing's production caps.

Reuters noted that the airline also reduced its annual capital expenditure forecast to $6.5 billion, down from the approximate $9 billion initially projected. This adjustment reflects the broader strategy to manage growth in light of manufacturing constraints.

Regulatory Reviews and Service Delays

Amid these strategic shifts, United faces scrutiny from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), affecting its planned expansion. A spokeswoman revealed that certain services, including flights from Newark to Portugal and Tokyo to the Philippines, have been postponed due to this regulatory review. The airline also delayed its investor day, emphasizing its commitment to addressing safety protocol reviews with the FAA.

First Quarter Performance and Outlook

Despite a net loss of $124 million this quarter, United Airlines reported a nearly 10% increase in revenue compared to last year, showcasing resilience in operational performance. The airline anticipates earnings of between $3.75 and $4.25 per share in the second quarter, surpassing Wall Street expectations.

Looking forward, United remains optimistic, maintaining its full-year earnings forecast and experiencing a more than 4% increase in after-hours trading on Tuesday. This resilience, amid regulatory and manufacturing challenges, underscores United's strategic adaptability in a volatile industry landscape.

Photo: PR Newswire

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