United has announced the first major deal of this year's Farnborough air show, when it announced a plan to acquire 100 737Max aircraft, with options for 100 more; the total value is being put at $8b. It's the first major order from UAL since its merger with Continental.
United was the second airline customer for the 737, back in the mid 1960s, after Lufthansa, and the launch customer for the -200, which it introduced into service in August 1967, with the delivery of N9001U. Since then, UAL has ordered the -300 and -500, while Continental has operated the -100 (acquired from the People Express merger in '87), -3/500, -700,-800 and -900ER; deliveries of the NGs are continuing, the latest being delivered as recently as last week.
Lufthansa will cease 737 operations in 2016, so will not get to celebrate fifty years of 737 operations, but United will. Is this the first time this has ever happened - a fifty year relationship between an airline and an aircraft? Possibly Delta's relationship with the DC9/MD80, which it will celebrate in 2015, will beat it, but it's still an amazing achievement
This latest order ensures that UAL's relationship with the 737 will continue for another 20 years at least.