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United adds routes with premium leisure in mind


United will add Palermo, Sicily; Nice, France; and Curacao to its international route network. 

The new destinations are part of an international buildup by United in "premium leisure," said United vice president of international network Patrick Quayle. 

United will fly the seasonal service to all three destinations from its Newark hub. Saturday-only winter Curacao service begins Dec. 7, while daily Nice and Palermo service will begin May 2 and May 20, respectively. United is launching the Nice service in time for the start of the Cannes Film Festival on May 12. The Palermo flights will be the only nonstop connection between the U.S. and Sicily. 

In a fourth new international route announced Thursday, United will fly daily year-round between Chicago O’Hare and Zurich beginning March 28 -- its fourth Zurich route. The carrier also will extend its summer seasonal service between Denver and London Heathrow and between San Francisco and New Delhi into year-round routes beginning this winter. And, United will increase frequencies to twice daily on Newark-Amsterdam and Newark-Frankfurt service beginning in March. 

United has added 26 international routes in the last 2-and-a-half years, Quayle said. United won’t cut any transatlantic service to make room for the new European routes, he added. Instead, the routes will be supported by new widebody deliveries. 

Quayle said United’s ongoing retrofit project for Boeing 767-300ERs is also facilitating the carrier’s expansion strategy into upscale international leisure markets. The retrofitted planes have just 167 seats compared with the 214 seats they had before the reconfiguration. 

Premium seat numbers, however, are well up on the aircraft, including an addition of 16 Polaris business-class seats, which brings the total Polaris count to 46.

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