UNITED Airlines hopes to win some of Cathay Pacific's business-class traffic to the United States with its new non-stop service to Los Angeles, which began this week. America's second largest airline staged a cocktail party at the Grand Hyatt to celebrate both its new route's inaugural flight and the airline's new flying colours. Mr David Solloway, United's new Hongkong general manager, said he saw Cathay Pacific as the main opposition on the new route, the carrier's third US gateway. He expects much of his custom to come from business travellers: hence United's unusual seating configuration on the new Boeing 747-400 service. There will be 36 first-class seats, 184 economy-class seats and a hefty 126 business-class seats, which United prefers to call ''connoisseur class''. United has unveiled a re-styled grey-and-blue livery for its fleet of more than 500 jetliners, following its change in status from domestic to global carrier. The revamp comes as airlines worldwide strive to earn more customers and control costs in a difficult economic environment. Chairman Stephen Wolf said: ''As we compete vigorously for more customers worldwide, we must visually distinguish our airline from other carriers. ''A dramatic new look will help us to achieve that distinction.'' The new livery will be gradually introduced to reduce costs. It could be several years before the transformation is complete.