United Airlines has announced the first international routes for its soon-to-arrive Boeing 787 Dreamliners. The Chicago-based carrier, which is the North American launch customer for the 787, has said that it expects to place five 787s into service this year. It will take delivery of its first Dreamliner in late September.
United had said previously that it will operate the 787 from Denver to Tokyo Narita International Airport starting on March 31 next year. On August 23 it announced three more routes: daily service from Los Angeles to Narita starting on January 3; daily service five days a week between Houston and Lagos, Nigeria, starting on January 7; and daily service from Los Angeles to Shanghai starting on March 30. “The 787 is the right aircraft for these routes because of its many passenger-friendly amenities and superior operating economics,” said Greg Hart, United Airlines senior vice president of network.
The airline said it will operate daily 787 service temporarily from Houston to Amsterdam and Houston to London Heathrow airport, beginning on December 4 this year and next February 4, respectively. U.S. domestic routes are still to be announced.
United has firm orders for fifty 787s, for delivery by 2019. Boeing pilots conducted the first production flight of the first United 787, powered by General Electric GEnx-1B engines, on August 19. The aircraft took off from Paine Field in Everett, Wash., and flew for more than three hours around the Seattle area. During the flight, crewmembers checked the performance of cabin pressurization, avionics, navigation and communications systems.
The United 787-8 is configured for 36 seats in business class, 72 seats in economy plus and 111 seats in economy. The airline says it has installed a full-flight simulator in Houston to train pilots. It will also base 787 maintenance at Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport, and is “warehousing more than 1,180 different spare parts” for ready access by mechanics.
Meanwhile, on August 31 Latin American carrier LAN is set to receive the first of thirty-two 787-8s it has on order. LAN, which recently merged with Brazil’s TAM group, will be the first South American operator of the new composite widebody.