United to buy 30 regional jets from Embraer

United Airlines orders 30 new 76-seat regional jets from Embraer; deliveries start in 2014

Associated Press

CHICAGO (AP) -- United Airlines is ordering larger regional jets with 76 seats, continuing its shift away from even smaller planes.

United said Monday that it will buy 30 of the Embraer 175s, with deliveries next year and in 2015.

Planes flown by United itself seat more than 100 passengers. But it also hires regional airlines to fly smaller planes like those announced Monday, under the United Express name.

Until now pilot agreements at United barred it from using regional planes with more than 70 seats. But a new contract ratified in December allows planes with up to 76 seats. The contract covers pilots who came from United and Continental in their 2010 merger.

The new jets will replace 50-seat regional jets, which have fallen out of favor with airlines as fuel prices have risen. United said the new jets will burn 10 percent less fuel per passenger than the jets they replace. United was using 345 of the 50-seat jets as of the end of last year.

United said the planes would have 12 first class seats, 16 of its "Economy Plus" coach seats with extra legroom, and 48 coach seats.

Shares of Chicago-based United Continental Holdings Inc. rose 86 cents, or 2.8 percent, to close at $32 on Monday. Shares of Brazil-based Embraer SA fell 5 cents to close at $32.74.

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