Featured Map for 15 December 2022:
United's Huge 787 Order Versus 767-300ERs


Tuesday, in an announcement at Charleston, South Carolina that offered hardly any surprises other than quantities, United Airlines and Boeing announced that United was ordering 100 examples of the 787 Dreamliner, with options on 100 more, with specific models to be specified later. The order is said to be the largest order for widebody aircraft by a U.S. carrier in history.

In addition, United exercised options to purchase 44 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, to be delivered between 2024 and 2026, and added orders for another 56 for delivery between 2027 and 2028.

Part of the 787 order will replace older Boeing 767 and 777 aircraft, with the 767 fleet including the oldest aircraft. As part of the announcement, United said that the 767 would be eliminated by 2030. United has a long history with the Boeing 767, placing the launch order (for 30 aircraft) on 14 July 1978. United and merger partner Continental ultimately went on to acquire 85 examples of the Boeing 767:

The 767-300ER fleet is the oldest and thus likely the first to be replaced. Of the 29 aircraft currently in service, ten are in what was originally a high-density domestic configuration but are now mostly used on international routes with low premium demand. The other 19 aircraft have just 167 seats, including a large Polaris cabin.

Only one aircraft in the 767-400ER fleet has been upgraded with Polaris seats; the others still have pre-Polaris business-class seats though United has said that all will be upgraded by summer 2023.

Here is how these configurations compare to United's current 787s:


United has not identified which 787 models will be included in the new order but the 787-8 seems like the obvious replacement for the 767-300s. In its current United configuration, the 787-8 has two fewer Polaris seats but ten more economy seats than the high-density 767-300ER, plus a Premium Plus cabin. It seems likely that United will add a new configuration to replace the 767-300s with the large Polaris cabin. The currrent 787-8 configuration could also be a good replacement for the 767-400ER fleet.

Today's Featured Map shows where United currently flies the 767-300ER, focusing on the trans-Atlantic routes. The thin, light-purple paths show where the high-density configurtion is used: from the Newark hub to six destinations in Europe and to the Houston hub where these aircraft serve Munich, San Salvador, plus three destinations in South America (which are cropped to make the dense trans-Atlantic network clearer). The thick, dark-purple paths illustrate where the aircraft with the larger premium cabins are used: routes from Newark include three domestic routes plus four to Europe; these aircraft also fly to Europe from hubs at Chicago and Washington, plus a non-hub route from Boston to London. United doesn't currently fly the 767-300ER to Hawaii other than on occasional substitutions to Honolulu, which is amusing since the 14 aircraft acquired starting in 1998 were intended for Hawaii and high-density domestic routes.

References and additional information:



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