United Airlines’ Boeing 757s Won’t Fly Again Until Further Notice

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The current global crisis has greatly changed operations and fleet plans for many airlines around the world. For US carrier United Airlines, it means that its Boeing 757s will remain on the ground for quite some time. In fact, there are no plans for them to carry passengers for the foreseeable future.

united-boeing-757-retirement
United Airlines has been using its 757s for transatlantic operations as well as some transcontinental routes. Photo: Emirates EK27 via Wikimedia Commons.

Goodbye to the 757 – for now

According to Live And Lets Fly, United Airlines will stop operating all 757s. This is obviously due to the global slowdown in air passenger traffic. As a result, the airline will only operate a sub-fleet of 767-300s. Grounding the 757s means that they will be absent from transcontinental US flights and East Coast transatlantic services to Europe.

Additionally, pilot staffing will be consolidated to the United hubs of Chicago, Houston, and Newark. Unfortunately, this means 757 and 767 base closures will occur at the United hubs of Los Angeles, Denver, and San Francisco.

United A321XLR
United plans on replacing Boeing 757-200s with Airbus A321XLR aircraft. Photo: Airbus

Live And Lets Fly reports that these base closures would mean the loss of jobs for a large number of United crew. This includes:

  • 101 captains and 159 first officers in Washington
  • 46 captains and 44 first officers in Denver
  • 85 captains and 81 first officers in Los Angeles
  • and 105 captains plus 94 first officers in San Francisco

Does ‘for now’ mean forever?

Like most things these days, it’s a game of wait-and-see when it comes to reactivating particular routes and aircraft. United seems to be far more vocal about its pessimism and bleak outlook.

If the global situation does improve and air traffic numbers shoot up, perhaps we’ll see these 757s return to the sky once again. However, the likelihood of this happening is unknown – it really depends on the successful containment of this virus and the confidence of the public to get on a plane once more.

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United 757 take-off
This move means that many pilots could find themselves out of a job. Photo:
Photo: BriYYZ via Flickr

Therefore, if passenger numbers don’t recover in a reasonable amount of time, this latest move could mean the end of the 757s for United. Some analysts are predicting recovery could take years. Add to this the fact that the airline will begin taking delivery of its Airbus A321XLRs in 2024, and it means there may not be much incentive to keep the old 757s around.

Conclusion

The Boeing 757 has been part of the United fleet since the late 80s and early 90s. With changes in ETOPS rules, the narrowbody jets found a new purpose flying long-range, low-demand transatlantic routes. Chicago (ORD) to Edinburgh (EDI) is just one example of this.

While it would be incredibly sad to see these jets go – especially the jobs that they provide – United seems determined to cut all unnecessary costs as it fights for its survival.

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Simple Flying reached out to United Airlines requesting a comment on this matter. However, at the time of publication, we had not received a response from the airline. We will update this article if any news is received.

Do you think we’ll ever see United fly its 757s ever again? Or will this plan to park them inevitably lead to the complete retirement of the aircraft type? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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