United Airlines will take a leap into the potential supersonic travel market with its first order of Overture jets from Boom Technology, hoping that business travelers will be willing to pay more for ocean travel faster.
In a statement released Thursday, the company said the company will purchase 15 supersonic aircraft that are expected to begin carrying passengers in 2029. At a cost of $200 million per aircraft, the deal is valued at $3 billion at fixed prices, and Boom offers no discounts, according For company founder and CEO Blake Scholl. United also has the option to purchase an additional 35 aircraft.
United Airlines hopes to be the first operator of Overture, which will be able to accommodate up to 88 people. The coastal hubs of leading business travel companies make these aircraft “uniquely beneficial” for United, said Mike Liskinen, the company’s vice president of development. Although supersonic flights are banned over US soil, United hopes to be able to establish three-and-a-half hours of connections from Newark, New Jersey, to London, and six-hour links from San Francisco to Tokyo.
“This is of tremendous value to a large portion of our premium business aviation customers,” Liskinen said. “We are keeping our eyes on flights from New York to London as an opening service and will evaluate opportunities other than these.”
Boom is trying to deal with the aviation and financial challenges needed to bring back commercial supersonic aviation for the first time since Concorde’s demise in 2003 and can anticipate a bumpy ride. So far, the company has raised $250 million, but the development costs needed to make Overture’s first flight a reality are expected to be $8 billion, Scholl said.
The Denver suburban company announced the deal with United less than a month after the collapse of Aerion Corp., which had already raised $11 billion in orders for the supersonic jet. But the company said on May 21 that it had not been able to secure the funding it needed to continue the deal.
For Boom, the agreement with United marks the first time a customer has made a cash advance to Overture, which is made of carbon fibre. Bohm said that Japan Airlines and Richard Branson’s Virgin Group have already pre-ordered the plane, giving them the option to buy the plane.
Liskinen said United were confident of the path Bohm took to get “from point A to point B to point C” in developing the introduction to the introduction. The Chicago carrier declined to discuss the financial details of the order.
The market for new supersonic aircraft could reach 160 billion by 2040, according to a December report by UBS Group analyst Miles Walton. The increased speed may be very attractive to business travelers, Walton said, but the prices may be too high for some.
At sea level, the speed of sound is 1,223 kilometers per hour. According to Bohm, introductory jets will fly at around 2,000 kilometers per hour, or Mach 1.7, twice the speed of conventional jets. The cruising altitude of 60,000 feet (over 18,000 meters) would be higher than most other commercial transportation. Like Concorde, the aircraft will only break the sound barrier over the oceans.
“I’ve taken a series of business trips in the US that I can turn into day trips and come back in the late afternoon to see my kids,” Leskin said. This will open the same possibility for Western Europe. “
Concorde flew for 27 years until 2003, flying over the Atlantic at Mach 2, or more than 2,400 kilometers per hour. But due to its voracious appetite for fuel and exorbitant maintenance costs, only two companies – Air France and British Airways – routinely flew the plane, and fewer than two dozen were built. According to Scholl, the up front will be 75% cheaper to run.
Last year, Boom announced a collaboration with Rolls-Royce to design Overture’s propulsion system by reusing some of the British manufacturer’s technology. United said the aircraft would be optimized for flight using 100% sustainable fuels and zero carbon emissions.