United Airlines, the third-largest US carrier, may soon commence negotiations with Airbus and Boeing Co for an aircraft order that is likely to total 150 aircraft. Airbus officials have confirmed that United may be seeking a mix of wide-body and narrow-body aircraft.
Boeing too has been invited to participate in the bidding.
With global recession driving the airline industry into a tailspin both these manufacturers are battling slowing demand and order cancellations and deferrals. Between the two of them, the European Airbus and the American Boeing share the entire large commercial aircraft market in the world.
A report in the Wall Street Journal suggests that United may seek to replace a number of its 111 wide-body planes and some of its 97 Boeing 757 single-aisle aircraft. It also said that United has hired Seabury Group Llc to aid in the negotiations.
United emerged from bankruptcy protection in 2006 and has seen its stock value decline 86 per cent in two years.
Industry experts said that with a large order UAL may well be seeking to replicate the achievement of US Airways, which placed a huge order at very cheap rates in the 1990's. The idea is to get manufacturers to bid aggressively at the bottom of a recession.