United Airlines has contacted Airbus to purchase more A321neo aircraft to fill the possible gap left by the delayed Boeing 737 MAX 10, in a move that could ease the impasse over a long-delayed separate order for larger planesaccording to industry sources.
United Chief Executive Scott Kirby recently flew to Toulouse to sound out the planemaker about a possible quid-pro-quo deal after a mid-flight emergency on an Alaska Airlines 737 MAX 9 raised new questions about certification. of the already delayed MAX 10, sources indicated.
“United Airlines has held talks with Airbus about possible alternatives to the MAX 10 order. As far as I know, no agreement has been reached,” said a person familiar with the talks.
Talks are at an early stage and there are no guarantees a deal will be reached, the sources said.
Airbus and United Airlines declined to comment.
Kirby’s trip to Toulouse, which until now had not been reported, is the latest twist in an increasingly serious crisis in which Boeing is mired, which is trying to reassure public opinion and regulatory bodies about quality and production security, while preventing key orders from being disrupted.
Last week, Kirby called the partial grounding of the MAX 9 “the straw that broke the camel’s back” following delays in certification of the MAX 10, the largest member of an aircraft family marred by a previous safety crisis caused by two fatal crashes.
United has not canceled any of the 277 MAX 10s it has on order, but has removed them from its internal plans, Kirby told reporters last week, raising questions about how it will fill the gap at a time when rival Airbus It is very sold.