United Airlines Holdings Inc. said it is buying 25 new Boeing Co. 737 MAX jets and bumping up its orders for dozens more as it positions its fleet for a travel rebound.
The deal is a boost for Boeing, which has lost hundreds of MAX orders during a nearly two-year grounding following two fatal crashes of the jet. The U.S. in November approved the MAX for passenger flights again, requiring the plane to undergo software updates and pilots to go through additional training, among other measures.
Andrew Nocella, United’s chief commercial officer, said in a memo Monday that the MAX would be key to the company’s long-term growth and its ability to serve demand, which it expects to rebound in the coming years, as the carrier starts to replace aging aircraft that are nearing retirement. United resumed flying passengers on the MAX in February.
“As the end of the pandemic nears and vaccines continue to roll out, today’s fleet announcement helps position us to meet the demand we expect to see in 2022 and 2023,” Mr. Nocella said.
United’s move is the latest indication that the industry is planning for demand to revive as more people are vaccinated. The number of people passing through U.S. airports has climbed in recent weeks, even though passenger volumes remain 50% to 60% below pre-pandemic levels.