United pushes back premium cabin upgrades on 777s

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Continuing cost control efforts by United Airlines have resulted in the carrier opting to delay the start of reconfiguring premium cabin on its fleet of Boeing 777s.

United in 2008 began reconfiguring premium cabins on its widebody fleet to feature lie-flat seats and 15.4in personal television screens.

In January of this year United said 777 configuration would start late in 2009, and take roughly one-year to complete.

But in a recent update to employees carrier management explains work on the 777 fleet is being moved back a few months to start in February 2010.

"The B777 program is more complex than the B767 and B747 programs, given the three different B777 sub-fleets," the carrier explains. "The 46 B777s in our fleet represent some of our newest aircraft, which serve our international travellers well.

Furthermore, United acknowledges it is "facing a challenging year due to the global recession, changing market demand and increasing fuel prices".

The carrier believes the decision to postpone the modifications allows for better cost control in 2009, "helping us maintain a stronger cash flow through the historical trough period to the fourth quarter".

United completed the modifications on its 21 767s in May, and in June reported completions on 18 of 24 747s.