The best airplane I've ever flown... by a country mile.... is the B757. The B767-300ER next, followed by the A320. Far down is the B737. It flew fine, but the cockpit is cramped, the windows are tiny, it's loud, and as we are talking about the range, I think we all understand the 900ER is a bit short for some of the routes that UAL flies them on.
So is UAL "shortsighted" for parking the LUAL 757's and bringing in the B737-900ER's? Well, there is MUCH more to the answer than an few fuel stops and blocked seats. The LUAL 757's need a SIGNIFICANT investment to bring them up to the level of avionics etc. required by the FAA to operate them as a common fleet with the LCAL 757's. Without that investment, the fleets will have to be operated separately as they are now, which drives your costs up and reduces merger synergies. It's a big number. On top of that, all in, each B737-900ER saves $2 million per year over the B757 it replaces. UAL got a screaming deal on these airplanes from Boeing with the Max on the horizon, which definitely helped drive the decision. Recently UAL announced it was keeping additional LUAL 757's and B767-300's that had been slated to be parked because they need the lift. They will do the upgrades on those airplanes (I THINK the number was north of $1 million per frame, but I can't remember exactly what I was told in the standards meeting) and add them to the PS
airplanes that they've kept for the premium routes LAX
. So is this a smart strategy? Should UAL have kept more old planes ala DAL
? Well, first of all the decision was made when oil was literally double what it is now, so you have to keep that frame of reference in mind. UAL is now actively shopping for used airplanes for the first time in recent memory due to the changing landscape of the domestic operation. It's a dynamic game. But here's the thing, all the forum jockeys on here that are proclaiming that it was "shortsighted" of UAL to park the 757's are doing so with maybe 1/10th of the information that the UAL execs have. How can you make such a claim if you don't have all the numbers to pencil? It's silly, really. It's like making a judgement about the Ferguson decision without reading all the transcripts the grand jury read.
Nobody wishes more than me that they had kept all the LUAL 757's. I would have flown that bird happily until I retired. But even I will admit that $2 million a year is worth a few fuel stops here and there.