June 16, 2024

United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby

United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby
Photo: Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post (Getty Images)

Most global airlines buy their planes from one of two businesses: There’s U.S.-based Boeing and France-based Airbus. United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby thinks there should be a more diverse array of options for carriers looking to add to their fleets.

“I think we need more competition in the aerospace sector,” he said this week to The Air Show, a podcast put out by the aviation news outlet The Air Current, while at the Dubai annual meeting of the International Air Transport Association.

Boeing (as well as its customers) has been dealing the highly public fallout from a piece of fuselage falling off an Alaska Airlines-operated 737 Max 9 in January. Airbus has also had less headline-grabbing troubles due to an engine problem on some of its jets.

During the podcast, Kirby welcome reports about Brazilian small-jet manufacturer Embraer possibly beginning development of a larger model. He also suggested that a lack of competition was behind why Boeing even made the troubled 737 Max planes in the first place, instead of developing a new model that might have had fewer problems.

“The reason they haven’t done it is because, I think, I’m almost certain, is they look at the world and say ‘well, we have a duopoly,’” Kirby said. “Why would we invest $10 billion in a new airplane in a duopoly?’”

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