United Airlines has added nine Boeing 787-9s to its backlog with deliveries slated to start in 2020 and plans to use the aircraft to replace existing widebodies, the Chicago-based carrier said Oct. 1.

The order boosts United’s total number of 787 commitments to 64, including 37 in service—12 -8s and 25 -9s.

The announcement came as United unveiled the first routes for its 787-10s, which enter service early next year. The airline will operate the longest 787 variant between its Newark hub and both Los Angeles and San Francisco. The Los Angeles flights will start Jan. 7, while San Francisco is slated to see its first -10s on Feb. 14. The newest Boeing aircraft will operate two of 12 planned peak-season daily round-trips in the Newark-Los Angeles market, and one of the carrier’s planned summer peak of 15 daily Newark-San Francisco round trips, the airline said.

United is the North American launch customer for the 787-10 and expects to take its first deliveries later this quarter in preparation for the early 2019 entry into service. United’s 787-10s will have 318 seats, including 44 in its Polaris business class, 21 premium economy seats, 54 in the carrier’s economy plus section, and 199 economy seats. 

While the carrier’s initial 787-10 routes will be domestic, United sees the model as an ideal transatlantic aircraft.

The 787 is “a phenomenal European airplane,” president Scott Kirby said at a recent industry conference. “I know the economics of the airplane, I know the economics of the routes. They will almost certainly fly a lot of Chicago, Newark, and Dulles to Europe. I just don’t know when.”

Aviation Week’s fleet discovery database projects that United will take delivery of six 787s in 2019—all -10 variants. Six expected 787 deliveries in 2020 will be split between the -9 and -10, as will two deliveries projected for 2022.

United’s order pushes Boeing’s total of net 787 orders this year to 105, according to the US manufacturer’s website. Entering this year, Boeing had booked 100 or more net 787 annual orders just once since 2007, recording 182 in 2013.

Sean Broderick, sean.broderick@aviationweek.com