The move will help United save money and give its balance sheet greater flexibility as it faces increasing losses from the coronavirus causing a worldwide drop in air travel.
Earlier this week, United CEO Oscar Munoz said business has essentially fallen to zero. “We plan to steal fewer people throughout the month of May than we did in one day in May 2019,” Munoz wrote in a note to employees describing his intention to cut his schedule by 90% in May. .
The letter and warning arrived a day after the airline accepted a $ 4.9 billion grant from the US Treasury.
Sixteen of the planes involved in the agreement are 737-9 Max models that have not yet been delivered by Boeing. United currently has approximately 800 aircraft in its fleet.
Sale and leaseback agreements provide airlines with greater financial flexibility while ensuring that they have the planes they need to adapt to their schedule. For aircraft rental companies, sale and leaseback agreements generally allow them to expand their portfolio while purchasing planes at a discount.
Cirium, an aviation consultancy, says airlines have parked more than two-thirds of commercial aircraft worldwide. Given the extremely weak outlook for domestic and international travel, many analysts have predicted that the industry is entering a period when carriers will delay or cancel orders.
Another option is for airlines to sell their planes to other airlines or to aircraft rental companies.