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By Alison Sider
United Airlines Holdings Inc. struck a deal to buy 50 long-range Airbus SE jets to replace its aging fleet of Boeing Co. 757s, which are due to be retired in the coming years.
The airline will use the single-aisle A321XLR jets beginning in 2024 to fly from its hubs near New York and Washington, D.C., to European destinations, United Chief Commercial Officer Andrew Nocella said Tuesday. He said the aircraft will likely open up new routes with its longer flying capability.
Mr. Nocella said United hasn't ruled out buying Boeing's proposed midsize aircraft, known as the NMA. Boeing has yet to decide whether to build the jet as it focuses on returning the 737 MAX to service after two recent fatal crashes. It had hoped to have the new midsize plane in service by around 2025.
"We'll take a close look at that aircraft," Mr. Nocella told reporters on a conference call.
The Chicago-based carrier's order is a setback for Boeing, which has fallen behind Airbus in their annual contest for orders and deliveries, and highlights gaps in its product lineup.
Mr. Nocella told reporters that Boeing -- also based in Chicago -- didn't have a jet to compete with the A321XLR, which can fly up to 4,700 miles, more than the Boeing 737 MAX 10 jets that United already has on order. Boeing didn't respond to a request for comment.
Airbus said at the Paris Air Show this year that it would develop the long- range version of its A321. Airlines including JetBlue Airways Corp. and American Airlines Group Inc. have already announced orders for the long-range plane.
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(END) Dow Jones Newswires
December 03, 2019 20:49 ET (01:49 GMT)
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