What US Airlines Will Order The Boeing 797?

With the lead up to the Paris Air Show this summer (Which Simple Flying will be covering, so watch this space), many publications predict that Boeing will use the opportunity to present the Boeing 797.

Looking back at previous Boeing aircraft launches, it is very likely that a launch airline will be part of the presentation. Typically this would be one of the big three American airlines, although in the past it has been a European flag carrier (such as Lufthansa for the 777X).

So which US airlines are most likely to be the launch partner for the Boeing 797 and which would prefer to wait and see?

UNITED
A United Airlines Boeing 767 awaits boarding. Source: Wikimedia

Who is the Boeing 797 perfect for?

Let’s begin first with outlining who the 797 will be perfect for.

The Boeing 797 will most likely be a twin-aisle aircraft carrying around 250 passengers about 4-5,000 nmi. This makes it perfect for short haul high-density domestic routes (e.g. New York to Chicago), as well as hops across the Atlantic to Paris or London. There are several competitive aircraft gunning for the 797 crown which you can read about here, but so far no airline has committed to buying one until the 797 is announced.

Boeing 767
The Boeing 797 will be about the same size as the Boeing 767 but will have a shorter range. Pictured: A Boeing 767F. Photo: Boeing.

Additionally, airlines that operate a large Boeing 757 or 767 fleet would be interested in replacing their aircraft with 797s. As it still unclear if Boeing would restart 767-300ER production, many airlines are holding their breath and renovating their existing 20-year-old 767 fleets to keep them flying.

So, an ideal launch partner would be, in theory:

  • An airline that operates popular domestic routes in the USA
  • An airline that loves the Boeing 757 or 767
  • An airline looking to expand capacity on routes currently operated by Boeing 737s or Airbus A320s

Who fits this bill?

United

We know that United is looking to replace their fleet of 40 Boeing 767s in the next 5-10 years.

“We maintain regular discussions about our long term fleet needs with the manufacturers, including Boeing and Airbus… …We have not recently asked for an offer for any particular widebody aircraft type but have in the ordinary course of discussions asked for information about several widebody aircraft including the 767.” – United statement regarding their 767 fleet renewal in 2017.

777-200
A United 777-200 comes into land. United was the launch customer of this aircraft. Source: Wikimedia

United is in fierce competition with American and Delta and will be looking for any way to beat them on New York to Chicago. We predict they will be one of the first to order the 797.

Delta

Delta Airlines operates the world’s largest fleet of Boeing 767s, they have 77 flying in the skies today with many undergoing renovations to include the Delta One ‘better than business’ suite.

DELTA
A Delta 767-300ER in Skyteam livery. Source: Wikimedia

Delta will be chomping at the bit if given the chance to have a ‘cheaper to operate + new technology’ 797. Their 767’s won’t last forever, and as we have seen they are reluctant to invest in the Airbus A330-800 competitor.

American Airlines

Now, American is a little less likely than the above two as they have decided to completely phase out their fleet of 767s and 757s. They have decided to replace their 757s with Airbus A321neos, and 767s with 787-9 Dreamliners.

Thus, they don’t actually need the 797 as a fleet replacer, and would only look at it as a new type of aircraft for new or improving existing routes. Their love the Dreamliner (which can sit around 240-270 passengers) makes it unlikely that they would need a second domestic twin-aisled aircraft.

American Airlines
American Airlines 767-400. Source: Wikimedia

Honorable mentions

What about the other big US airlines like Alaska, Southwest, Jetblue, and Hawaiian?

Southwest – Southwest has always operated an exclusive Boeing 737 fleet, and with their huge MAX order on the wings there seems to be no reason for them to expand into larger aircraft.

Alaska – Likewise Alaska only operates 737s and A320s, there is no real reason why they would suddenly want a bigger aircraft when its working well for them.

JetBlue – JetBlue on the other hand, has already committed to the Airbus A321neo with 85 orders (a competitor to the Boeing 797) and thus would have no reason to change their order.

Hawaiian – Like JetBlue, Hawaiian has already committed to the Airbus A321neo and doesn’t actually operate between any high dense domestic routes.

Are there any American airlines that we have missed? Let us know in the comments!

7 comments
    1. Thanks for this!
      Spirit has on order 43 Airbus A320neos, and it is unlikely to want to upgrade to a bigger plane. If anything, they would get the A321neo. They are pretty locked into the Airbus ecosystem.
      Frontier likewise is all Airbus and has plenty of new NEOs on order. Additionally, they are owned by Indigo Partners who buy the same aircraft for all four of their airlines around the world and it is unlikely that they will bring on Boeing anytime soon.

  1. Delta would be an ideal customer. They lead the pack and are the only premium US carrier. This plane would be great for their transcon and NY to London routes.

    Installed with the delta 1 suites would make their product unbeatable between world class service and a sold product.

    United would also be nice to order this plane for transcon!

    I doubt American would order early on especially since the have a sizeable 787 order and a big a321 order. Plus now since they only fly the 777 on transatlantic flights from NY, combined with the 737 max for long thin routes from MIA; they have no reason for this plane.

    I predict Delta. Let’s see!

  2. Delta is begging for that plane for the ageing 757/767 fleet would be perfect for the Atlanta to northern South American routes and the New York to London and Paris routes.

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