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United Splits Airplane Order

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Chicago-based United Airlines is splitting its 50 airplane order with two competing companies. The purchase is worth about $10 billion.

Boeing Company and Airbus sent in proposals earlier this summer to replace a set of United Airlines’ wide-body jets. Now the airline says it’s buying from both companies; twenty-five 787 Dreamliners from Boeing and twenty-five A350s from Airbus.

David Field is an independent airline analyst. He says it’s uncommon for a company to split its order.

FIELD: It makes a lot of sense to buy one model of airplane because that way you cut down on maintenance cost, you cut down on cost of spares, you cut down on training costs. In a lot of ways it’s more expensive to have two models doing the same thing in your fleet.

Field says the bargain United might be getting by splitting the order could make up for the extra costs. United has not yet disclosed the finances of the deal. The first delivery is expected around 2016.

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