United Airlines Makes Record Aircraft Purchase Ahead of Travel Boom

United airlines, air travel, COVID, pandemic
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There’s a travel boom coming, and United Airlines knows it.

On Tuesday, the U.S.-based airline unveiled plans to purchase a whopping 270 jets. That clocks in as the largest aircraft purchase in the company’s history, and the largest by any airline in roughly 10 years.

The bulk of the 270 jets United has ordered—200, to be precise—will be Boeing (BA) 737 Max jets. The remaining 70 will be Airbus (EADSF) A321neo aircraft. The list price for the order is a dizzying $35 billion, but United is likely purchasing them significantly below that price because of the effect the pandemic has had on travel, and therefore aircraft sellers.

“It’s a sign that United is a savvy airplane buyer,” Ron Epstein, aerospace analyst for Bank of America, told CNN. “I’m certain they’re getting a good deal on Max’s. But If they didn’t feel reasonably good about the return of market for flying, they wouldn’t be doing it.”

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United also announced orders for 500 more jets in the next few years. 40 of those will be delivered in 2022, and 138 will come through the following year.

The airline also plans to create about 25,000 jobs over the next five years, adding to the 68,000 frontline positions that currently exist. The airline is expected to focus on hiring pilots, flight attendants, mechanics, gate agents and other roles required to deal with the spike in travel it and many experts anticipate.

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