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United takes first 777-300ER amid widebody fleet shifts

United Airlines has taken delivery of its first of 14 Boeing 777-300ERs, as part of a larger rejig of its widebody fleet.

The Chicago-based carrier took delivery of the aircraft (registration N2331U and MSN 62642) in Everett, Washington, today, it says in a statement.

The 777 is scheduled to fly to United's San Francisco base later today, Flightradar24 shows.

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The 777-300ER, which will be configured with 366 seats including its new Polaris business class, is one in a number of changes to the airline's widebody fleet. Other changes include the retirement of its Boeing 747-400 fleet by 2018, shifting 10 formerly international 777-200s to its domestic operation, and deliveries of new next generation Boeing 787s and Airbus A350-1000s beginning in 2018.

United is nearly halfway through shifting the smaller 777s to domestic flying. It plans to complete retrofits to half of the 19 aircraft earmarked for the fleet by the end of the month, with the remaining scheduled for completion by the middle of 2017, it said in an employee newsletter on 16 December.

The additional nine aircraft were formerly dedicated to the carrier's Hawaii operations.

United's domestic 777-200s are configured in a high-density 364-seat configuration and will fly between its hubs and to Hawaii.

The airline's new 777-300ER will enter domestic service between Newark and San Francisco on 16 February and begin international flying between San Francisco and Hong Kong on 25 March. It will replace a 747 on the Hong Kong route.

United will take delivery of the remaining 13 777s that it has on order in 2017.

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