United Airlines orders more Boeing 737 Max planes

The planes are slated to be delivered by 2023

United Airlines is buying 25 new Boeing 737 Max jets and moved up the delivery of previously ordered aircraft as demand for the once-lucrative airline industry begins to return, the airline announced Monday.

The new planes are slated to be delivered in 2023, Chief Commercial Officer Andrew Nocella said in a memo to employees. He added that the delivery date of 40 previously ordered Max jets has been moved up to 2022 and the delivery of five Max aircraft has been moved to 2023. This is in addition to the 24 Max jets the airline was already set to receive that year.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
UAL UNITED AIRLINES HOLDINGS 49.88 -5.11 -9.29%
BA THE BOEING CO. 235.01 -9.02 -3.70%

In total, that's 94 new aircraft, which Nocella said is "good news" for employees, customers and the "communities we serve around the world."

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"There is no denying that the last year has been extremely difficult for us as an airline and as an industry," Nocella said. "But we’ve now put ourselves in a position to not only survive the crisis, but thrive as an airline, elevate our product for customers and emerge as a stronger, better United Airlines."

This agreement, according to Nocella, will best position United's "fleet for the recovery" following a year of unprecedented hardship.

A United Airlines 737 Max 9 takes off. (United Airlines) (United Airlines)

The news comes just after the jetliner returned to the skies at the end of December for the first time in nearly two years since a pair of fatal crashes involving the aircraft less than five months apart forced U.S. regulators to ground the plane.

All Max jets worldwide were grounded after the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crash in March 2019, which killed all 157 people on board, and Indonesia's Lion Air crash in October 2018, which killed all 189 on board.

JOURNALISTS BOARD AMERICAN AIRLINES BOEING 737 MAX IN FIRST PUBLIC FLIGHT SINCE GROUNDING

In both crashes, an automated flight-control system pushed the nose down repeatedly based on faulty sensor readings, and pilots were unable to regain control.

However, last November, the Federal Aviation Administration approved changes that Boeing made to the system, effectively allowing airlines to resume flying the plane. American Airlines was the first to do so on Dec. 29, flying passengers from Miami to New York.

The grounding coincided with a surging pandemic that upended travel demand, resulting in significant financial losses for major airlines.

In the fourth quarter alone, United suffered a net loss of $1.9 billion.

Despite complications surrounding the pandemic, United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby said the airline is "aggressively managing the challenges of 2020 depended on our innovation and fast-paced decision making."

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.