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Home / Business / To attract more wealthy travelers, United adds 1,600 premium seats to its fleet

To attract more wealthy travelers, United adds 1,600 premium seats to its fleet



United, Delta and American Airlines are engaged in an airline weapon race to get the most prosperous customers.

Now it is very profitable after losing billions in the 2000s, they are plowing money for new planes, fancy seats with more legrooms, airport lounges and other benefits, many of which are aimed at wellness travelers.

United

UAL, + 0.32%

raised the stakes Wednesday when it was announced that it would retrofit more than 100 aircraft as part of a move to add 1

,600 premium seats to nearly 250 jets.

The airline also plans to start using a new 50-seater jet with most of the premium seats on some routes that are popular with business travelers.

The decision is part of a larger industry string to provide more space and better service to high-paying passengers who account for a disproportionate share of airline revenue.

Andrew Nocella, UN chief administrator, said leaders decided that the airline had "a lack of premium seats in premium markets, and this solved this problem."

"It helps our customers and it helps our bottom line," he says.

Henry Airevents, Airline Research Airlines at Atmosphere Research, said United's announcement was a bold challenge for Delta Air Lines, the renowned front runner among the top three Carriers for their performance on time and strong profit margins.

"This is great news. They aim directly at Delta and its strength with premium travelers, "said Harteveldt.

Delta

DAL, -0.04%

executives say they have increased premium seating from 9 percent to nearly 30 percent since 2011, and they sell more than 60 percent of these seats, up from 13 percent – not just give them away in the form of upgrades. They say that several corporate accounts allow employees to purchase premium travel.

As a result, one third of Delta's revenue now comes from premium services, and less than half comes from finance, down from nearly two-thirds in 2011, Senior Vice President of Pricing Eric Phillips said in December.

American

AAL, -0.46%

has added "premium economy" seats – often doubling the price of regular economy but less than business class – on many aircraft used for international flights.

United will retrofit 21 of their Boeing 767-300ER rays starting in the next few weeks. It will reduce seats from 214 to 167 by shrinking the finance section as you move from 30 to 46 first-class seats and add 22 premium plus seats. The planes first fly between United's hubs in Newark, New Jersey and London.

Nocella rejected the idea that a sharp reduction in the number of finance theaters would lead to higher prices for budget-conscious customers. He said the airline could add aircraft across the Atlantic to maintain the economy theater supply and promised United would not surrender any group of customers to rival carriers.

United also plans to add some more first-class seats to its Airbus A319 and A320 aircraft. At the turn of the year, it hopes to start using new 50-seat Bombardier CRJ 550 jets between Chicago and smaller markets with many business travelers, such as Bentonville, Arkansas, home of Walmart. Federal regulators have not yet certified the aircraft, which will be operated by GoJet Airlines under the United Express brand.

Small 50-seat aircraft are notoriously cramped and unpopular with many travelers. Nocella said United's new small aircraft – 6 meters longer than the comparable aircraft it currently uses – will have 10 seats in business class, 20 economy plus seats and only 20 fixed economy seats.

"By creating these 50-seat jets are more comfortable, United has a good chance of attracting more business and frequent fliers," says analyst Harteveldt.

But business travel is conditional on a strong economy and wealth can change 19659002] Nocella says reconfiguration decisions are based on long-term expectations, and he is not concerned that a recession can claim business travel, as he said, has been strong.

Chicago-based United is the country's third largest airline by revenue, subsequent US and Delta.


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