After gala launch, executives express frustration with lack of deliveries.
Executives of United Airlines are venting over premium seat builder Zodiac Manufacturing after problems in the assembly line forced the delay of additional Polaris premium cabin seats to the carrier. Skift reports that the Chicago-based carrier is publicly expressing frustration with the French company, as the lack of seats is backing up the addition of new first- and business-class cabins to current fleet aircraft.
United debuted the Polaris experience at the end of 2016, promising a new front-of-aircraft experience that includes aisle access from every seat and improved amenity items from luxury partners including Saks Fifth Avenue. However, Zodiac announced that they were experiencing “industrial issues” in the United Kingdom, where the Polaris seat is being built. While the delays have not affected new aircraft deliveries, retrofit of current aircraft has been delayed until the seats can be secured.
“We have plans that are dynamic at this point, and [Zodiac] is receiving lots of beneficial support from our management team every single day,” United chief executive Oscar Munoz said at the J.P. Morgan Aviation, Transportation and Industrials conference, according to Skift. “We are working hard with them and with other suppliers to make sure that we can expedite our plan.”
With the delivery delay, United could lose competitive ground to fellow legacy carriers American Airlines and Delta Air Lines. American is currently retrofitting premium cabins to offer all-aisle access, while Delta has offered upgraded seats with aisle access on international flights since 2014, with the rollout of Delta One.
This is not the first time Zodiac has experienced delays in delivering premium-class seats to an airline. In 2015, American was forced to dry-dock new Boeing 787 Dreamliners in the desert, after a Zodiac seat shortage made the aircraft inoperable.
[Photo: Joe Cortez/FlyerTalk]