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Delta Upgrades Some Economy Seats on Overseas Flights

Delta Air Lines Inc., the world’s second-largest carrier, said it will add premium economy seats with more legroom on its longest international flights as it seeks new sources of revenue beyond basic airfares.

The so-called economy comfort seats will have as much as four additional inches of legroom and recline 50 percent more than those in standard economy, the Atlanta-based company said today in a statement. The seats cost $80 to $160 each way in addition to the coach-class fare.

Planes will lose an average of one row of economy seats to make space for the new class, said Chris Kelly, a spokeswoman for Delta. The Boeing Co. 767 is among five aircraft models, totaling about 160 planes, to be modified. The 767 will gain four rows of the new class, containing 28 seats.

The new seating class also includes free liquor, the company said. Beer, wine and meals are included in Delta’s international coach-class flights. Upgrades are free to Delta’s highest-level rewards program members and discounted for some of its other frequent fliers.

Delta joins United Airlines in offering economy seats with extra space as carriers hunt for new revenue amid rising jet- fuel costs. United Airlines and Continental Airlines merged in October to create United Continental Holdings Inc., surpassing Delta as the world’s biggest carrier.

United, American

United’s “economy plus” section in the front of its coach cabin has about five inches of extra room between seats, while Continental’s “extra legroom seating” has at least seven more inches in certain rows, said Rahsaan Johnson, a spokesman for the Chicago-based carrier.

AMR Corp.’s American Airlines doesn’t have a premium economy offering. Some of its overseas passengers are able to purchase such seats on American’s Oneworld alliance partner British Airways, said Tim Smith, a spokesman for the Fort Worth- based carrier.

Delta rose 15 cents, or 1.3 percent, to $11.55 at 4:15 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The shares rose 11 percent last year.

To contact the reporters on this story: Sonja Elmquist in New York at selmquist1@bloomberg.net; Mary Jane Credeur in Atlanta at mcredeur@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Ed Dufner at edufner@bloomberg.net.

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