What happened to the a350 order?

Old May 1, 19, 7:15 pm
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What happened to the a350 order?

Radio silence is rarely a great sign when it comes to the outlook of a new aircraft type actually joining the fleet. I haven’t heard anything about the a350 since fall of 2017 when UAL said they were converting their order to the -900 from the -1000 for the 777-200ER replacement. The a350 is not on the Polaris “future delivery” page, and we’ve actually seen UAL order more Boeing widebodies in this time frame. Any news? Is it an indefinite deferral at this point?
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Old May 1, 19, 7:27 pm
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It’s still in theory on the books. In practice it’s difficult to see UA buying new planes from anyone other than Boeing. Shame as the A350 is, IMHO, the nicest plane in the skies nowadays and generally the Airbus planes seem better from a passenger point of view.
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Old May 1, 19, 7:50 pm
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I am switching my travel back to United and hope to be able to fly on one these with United one day.
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Old May 1, 19, 9:21 pm
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Originally Posted by lhrsfo View Post
Shame as the A350 is, IMHO, the nicest plane in the skies nowadays and generally the Airbus planes seem better from a passenger point of view.
I've only flown it on VN which had a quite poor business class seat, so my experience wasn't as favorable. Seat aside, to me the A350 was indistinguishable from a ride standpoint to a 787. If UA only flies 787s, that's fine for me if they'd ever upgrade the seats on the -8s and -9s to new Polaris. The only big advantage to getting A350s would be more of the fleet having new seats.
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Old May 1, 19, 10:19 pm
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There has been rampant speculation here that UA will never take delivery of the 350's.

Officially, UA still has the orders on the books, and as you mention it was converted to the 900 from the 1000. But I always thought the notable thing about changing the order was that UA increased the order from 35 to 45.

I kind of thought it would be 50/50 If they took delivery. But the new wrinkle/wild card is the Boeing max debacle going on right now (yes, I realize 737 narrowbodies are not 350's.... not remotely close). But I think Boeing has had a lackluster response and exposed some flaws that *could* be viewed as a precursor to the 777x project.

I see a couple of ways this could play out:
1. UA takes the 350s just so they have options if the 777x has issues.
2. Boeing recovers from the max issues and give UA another sweetheart deal because they need the sales.
3. Boeing scraps the 777x and builds something from the ground up.
4. UA sells its deliveries to another carrier or lessor.
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Old May 1, 19, 10:34 pm
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Originally Posted by jhayes_1780 View Post
There has been rampant speculation here that UA will never take delivery of the 350's.

Officially, UA still has the orders on the books, and as you mention it was converted to the 900 from the 1000. But I always thought the notable thing about changing the order was that UA increased the order from 35 to 45.

I kind of thought it would be 50/50 If they took delivery. But the new wrinkle/wild card is the Boeing max debacle going on right now (yes, I realize 737 narrowbodies are not 350's.... not remotely close). But I think Boeing has had a lackluster response and exposed some flaws that *could* be viewed as a precursor to the 777x project.

I see a couple of ways this could play out:
1. UA takes the 350s just so they have options if the 777x has issues.
2. Boeing recovers from the max issues and give UA another sweetheart deal because they need the sales.
3. Boeing scraps the 777x and builds something from the ground up.
4. UA sells its deliveries to another carrier or lessor.
The 777X will most certainly NOT be scrapped, that suggestion is laughable - it’s a completely different airplane with completely different systems and control laws. It’s first flight is a few months away.
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Old May 1, 19, 10:35 pm
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Originally Posted by jhayes_1780 View Post
I see a couple of ways this could play out:
1. UA takes the 350s just so they have options if the 777x has issues.
2. Boeing recovers from the max issues and give UA another sweetheart deal because they need the sales.
3. Boeing scraps the 777x and builds something from the ground up.
4. UA sells its deliveries to another carrier or lessor.
(1) I don't discount the possibility of 777x issues, Boeing fired/offshored/"McDonald Douglased" its formerly leading engineering staff and the reality is that they have had one issue MAX after another 787, no company relying on Boeing to deliver quality new A/C on time can have much faith in Boeing at this. But, while I love the A350 - its a more comfortable A/C, especially in Y, than the 787 - I doubt UA takes these planes. UA is focued on pushing down costs, regardless of the passanger comfort level, and not having a new A/C type points in that direction. I expect UA to take more 787s and make due with them and the 77Ws.

(2) Boeing will offer sweethart deals. Delta is rapidly going all Airbus, AA is split at this point, and just for a pride point, they will want to keep UA all Boeing to the extent possible.

(3) there is no way that Boeing scraps the 777x. The first flight tests are coming up shortly, and there is no way having invested probably $5-6B (or more) that Boeing dumps the program, spends $20B on a new clean sheet A/C that does not come out for 5 years. Boeing has a major problem with the larger size MAX (which is a piss poor plane compared to the A321) and is focused on the the MOM plane at this point. There are not engineering resources to take on another program.

and P.s. UA has not ordered the 77x. So far 150 of which are from EK. ANA ordered 20, CX 21, Etihad 6, Qatar 90, SQ 20, and LH 20, and BA 18. It is really an A/C for long haul/ultra long haul to/from major hubs. I don't see any of the US carriers having a need for an Aircraft of this size (365 and 414 passengers) on enough routes that having a small fleet of them makes any sense.

Last edited by spin88; May 1, 19 at 10:42 pm
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Old May 2, 19, 12:09 am
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A350 deliveries are currently scheduled to begin in 2022, when UA could be ready to replace its oldest 772s.
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Old May 2, 19, 12:50 am
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Originally Posted by spin88 View Post
... I don't see any of the US carriers having a need for an Aircraft of this size (365 and 414 passengers) on enough routes that having a small fleet of them makes any sense.
That exact same argument was made not too many years ago about the 77W but now both UA and AA have them and they seem to fit quite well into certain slots in the network. I definitely don't dismiss the possibility of UA 777X in the near-ish future. UA has been dabbling more and more into routes none of us expected a few years ago.
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Old May 2, 19, 2:10 am
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Originally Posted by dvs7310 View Post
I've only flown it on VN which had a quite poor business class seat, so my experience wasn't as favorable. Seat aside, to me the A350 was indistinguishable from a ride standpoint to a 787. If UA only flies 787s, that's fine for me if they'd ever upgrade the seats on the -8s and -9s to new Polaris. The only big advantage to getting A350s would be more of the fleet having new seats.
I'm guessing you have not flown the 781 in J. It's too narrow for the Polaris seat, to the point I'll avoid the refitted 787s in long-haul. The 350 has a wider cabin and the Polaris seat will fit better.

The Airbuses are also quieter than the Boeings.
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Old May 2, 19, 2:53 am
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Originally Posted by Kacee View Post
I'm guessing you have not flown the 781 in J. It's too narrow for the Polaris seat, to the point I'll avoid the refitted 787s in long-haul. The 350 has a wider cabin and the Polaris seat will fit better.

The Airbuses are also quieter than the Boeings.
^

I used to be a "if it's not Boeing I'm not going" guy, but the A350 (and the A380) are just great planes from a pax perspective.

Hope UA takes their order, but doubt it.
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Old May 2, 19, 4:12 am
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They’re ideal for replacing 772’s in the upcoming years. They’ve upped the order to 45, first from 25, then 35, as they’ve kicked the can down the road.

The cancellation penalty on these is going to be pretty big. IIRC, the deposits from cancelled A319/320 orders pre bankruptcy were used on these in 2009 when they were first ordered.
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Old May 2, 19, 7:19 am
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It's a long shot, but I hope they do. Recently flew on a couple SQ A350s and found them to be really comfortable planes to fly on long haul.
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Old May 2, 19, 7:38 am
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Originally Posted by UAL757222 View Post
They’re ideal for replacing 772’s in the upcoming years. They’ve upped the order to 45, first from 25, then 35, as they’ve kicked the can down the road.

The cancellation penalty on these is going to be pretty big. IIRC, the deposits from cancelled A319/320 orders pre bankruptcy were used on these in 2009 when they were first ordered.
While I have this sneaking suspicion that UA will cancel the order because Boeing will give them a cheaper plane, I do fully see the rational behind when/how UA has taken equipment.

UA has a very large number of 772s, which average 16 years. They just took a lot of 787s, and as such have sufficient lift for their needs in planes up to the size of the 772.

The 744s were at the point where they were not only crapped out from a passenger perspective, but their fuel and maintenance costs make replacing them c2016 a priority if possible. Boeing offered UA a real cut rate deal on the 77W, which while not quite as big of a plane as the 744, was 33 feet longer (holding per Boeing's numbers 365, but actually lower) than the 772 (which Boeing says holds 300) allowing it to fill a gap in UA's line. Waiting for the A350-10 (which holds 366) was not as good of an option, nor was waiting even longer on the 778 (holding 365) or the 789 (holding 414) given that Boeing was willing to cut a killer deal on the 77W.

Put another way, UA went with the optional solution for the immediately forceeable 5 years, and it will be a good (or bad) decision over the ten years after that (2021-2031) depending on what happens with fuel prices.

But having gotten the 77W, UA does not really need the A350, let alone the A350-10, until it starts to retire the 772s. That is 3-4 years from now at the earliest, and probably in reality further away than that absent a spike in fuel prices. My guess is that the 772 will be in the fleet for 7 year minimum once the seats are retrofitted in J to Polaris.

From a planning perspective, UA has two things it can do. (1) take the A350-10, and use it to replace the 772s (which upgages them some) and eventually replacing the 77Ws with the A350-10s, or (2) Does United want to dump the order and go with the 778x (which is 13 feet shorter than the existing 77W) and the 779x (which is 9 feet longer, and is projected to hold 414). But - short of penalties owed to Airbus - there is no reason to make that decision now absent some regulatory changes coming down the pike impacting fuel prices.

Last edited by spin88; May 2, 19 at 7:45 am
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Old May 2, 19, 7:47 am
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Originally Posted by ASA_1 View Post
The 777X will most certainly NOT be scrapped, that suggestion is laughable - it’s a completely different airplane with completely different systems and control laws. It’s first flight is a few months away.
Originally Posted by spin88 View Post
(3) there is no way that Boeing scraps the 777x. The first flight tests are coming up shortly, and there is no way having invested probably $5-6B (or more) that Boeing dumps the program, spends $20B on a new clean sheet A/C that does not come out for 5 years. Boeing has a major problem with the larger size MAX (which is a piss poor plane compared to the A321) and is focused on the the MOM plane at this point. There are not engineering resources to take on another program.
Yes, scrapped was a poor choice of words. There is ZERO chance they will scrap the program.

However, I should have emphasized a new build/design issues/significant delays/etc, rather then just changing to a composite wing and new engines (as seems to be the publicly perceived issue that has contributed to the max issues).

Last edited by jhayes_1780; May 3, 19 at 8:16 am
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