United Airlines (UA, Chicago O'Hare) is in early negotiations with Airbus about a new A321-200neo order to replace some of its existing B737 MAX backlog. Reuters reported that the carrier's chief executive officer, Scott Kirby, flew to Toulouse Blagnac recently to kickstart the talks which focused on replacing United's outstanding B737-10s given the uncertainty about its delivery timeline and quality issues affecting Boeing aircraft.

In turn, Bloomberg cited sources saying the European manufacturer has approached numerous lessors and other airlines, offering to buy back their highly-coveted A321neo delivery slots which, once acquired, would then be offered to United.

Last week, United Airlines said it had removed the B737-10 from its internal fleet planning, although its firm order for 292 units has not been cancelled. The decision follows the recent in-flight door blowout on a B737-9, which led to the type's brief grounding. United is a key customer for both variants, as it already operates seventy-nine -9s - the most of any airline. On top of being the largest customer for the -10, it is also poised to be the variant's launch operator.

The B737-10, like the B737-7, has yet to be certified, and its service entry date remains uncertain.

Although United Airlines' narrowbody fleet is dominated by the B737NG and B737 MAX with 488 in total, the airline also operates 177 Airbus narrowbodies, including the recently inducted four A321-200NX. It has a further 126 A321-200NX and fifty A321-200NY(XLR)s on firm order from the manufacturer, the ch-aviation fleets module shows.