United Continental to invest additional $550 million in fleet upgrades
CHICAGO, Ill. – United Continental Holdings today announced it will invest more than a half-billion dollars in its onboard product as it takes another important step in becoming the world’s leading airline. These product improvements include:
Adding flat-bed seating on 62 additional long-haul aircraft, bringing total aircraft with flat-bed seats to 185, more than any other U.S. carrier
Adding Economy Plus seating and Channel 9 air traffic control audio to more than 300 aircraft
Nearly doubling the overhead storage space on more than 150 aircraft
Installing advanced broadband Wi-Fi on more than 200 aircraft
Introducing streaming wireless video onboard its 747-400 aircraft
Completely retrofitting its p.s. fleet with flat-bed seats, Economy Plus, on-demand audio and video and Wi-Fi
These and other planned product changes come in addition to the 25 new aircraft – including the Boeing 787 Dreamliner – that the airline will introduce to its fleet next year. United and Continental have each made significant product and service improvements over the past several years and since the airlines closed their merger Oct. 1, 2010.
“We are making very good progress building the world’s leading airline,” said Jeff Smisek, president and chief executive officer of United Continental Holdings, Inc. “When we announced our merger, we committed to building an airline that our co-workers would want to work for, our customers would want to fly, and our investors would want to invest in. These product enhancements announced today, coupled with our unbeatable route network and loyalty program, will provide an unsurpassed travel experience for our customers. We are planning many other product enhancements, both on the ground and in the air, which we will announce in the future.”
Improved Long-Haul Comfort with More Flat-Bed Seats than Any Other U.S. Carrier
In September, United will begin installing all-new flat-bed seats, on-demand audio and video programming and iPod connectivity in the premium cabins on 26 Boeing 767s – 12 Continental 767-400 aircraft and 14 United 767-300 aircraft. The company will also upgrade 767-400s with extra-legroom Economy Plus seating and the Channel 9 air traffic control audio channel, which all United aircraft have today. The 26 aircraft, which primarily serve trans-Atlantic, Latin and Hawaiian markets, will offer BusinessFirst and Economy cabins.
Ongoing upgrades to First, Business and Economy class on the airline’s three-cabin Boeing 777 aircraft will continue, with 17 of 46 aircraft currently offering flat-bed seats and advanced in-flight entertainment in First and Business and on-demand video in Economy. United will retrofit more than a dozen additional 777 aircraft this year.
United now offers more flat-bed seats than any other U.S. airline, with 124 aircraft reconfigured to date and 185 once the 767 and 777 fleets are completed.
More Extra-Legroom Economy Seating Than Any Airline Worldwide
United will begin installing Economy Plus seating on all Continental mainline aircraft this fall, offering the extra-legroom seating on 38 Continental aircraft by year’s end and nearly 100 more by the end of the first quarter of 2012. For customers flying in shorter-haul markets, United is adding First and Economy Plus seating beginning this fall to 29 Bombardier Q400 regional aircraft operated under the United Express banner. The Q400 aircraft fly principally out of United’s hubs in Houston, Chicago, New York/Newark and Washington.
Economy Plus seating is currently available on every United aircraft and more than 150 United Express regional jets. Upon completion of the Economy Plus installation on mainline Continental aircraft and the Q400 fleet – bringing the total number of aircraft with Economy Plus to more than 850 – United will offer more extra-legroom economy seating than any airline in the world.
Nearly Double the Overhead Space
Beginning in March 2012, the airline will nearly double the size of the overhead bins on all 152 of its Airbus A319 and A320 aircraft. The larger bins will increase storage space for standard 22-inch rolling bags by 66 percent. The airline will also refresh the interiors of its Airbus fleet.
Streaming In-Flight Entertainment and Wi-Fi
United is selecting a vendor for a streaming video in-flight entertainment option on its Boeing 747-400 aircraft, enabling customers to access video options via their Wi-Fi-enabled handheld devices, tablets and laptop computers. United’s 747 aircraft currently feature on-demand audio and video options in First and Business, with more than 150 hours of entertainment choices and iPod connectivity.
United continues with plans to install Wi-Fi on its aircraft. In March, Continental Airlines signed a letter of intent with LiveTV to install advanced broadband Wi-Fi using Ka-band satellite technology on more than 200 Boeing 737 and 757 aircraft equipped with DIRECTV.
Upgraded p.s. Transcontinental Service
United is also doing a complete nose-to-tail renovation of its popular p.s. fleet, which serves the New York Kennedy to San Francisco and Los Angeles markets. When completed in 2013, p.s. aircraft will offer flat-bed seats, Economy Plus, power ports at every row, on-demand audio and video and Wi-Fi service.