United delays international 787 service

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United Airlines has delayed the first international service for its new Boeing 787-8 aircraft to January 2013 from December, due to the availability of aircraft.

Los Angeles to Tokyo Narita will now be the Chicago-based carrier's first route on the aircraft when flights begin on 3 January. Flights between Houston Intercontinental and Amsterdam, which were to begin on 4 December, will begin on 23 February 2013 and operate through 29 March 2013.

United anticipates that it will have four 787s in its fleet by the end of the year, which is down from the previously planned five, it says.

The airline says that all of its planned permanent international 787 routes are not affected by the delay. These include flights between Houston and Lagos from 7 January 2013, Los Angeles and Shanghai from 30 March 2013, and Denver and Tokyo from 31 March 2013, as well as Los Angeles and Tokyo.

United said that it would receive 787s from Boeing "later" than expected and that this would impact its planned domestic flight schedule, in an employee bulletin in October.

The carrier received its second 787 from Boeing on 31 October and its first (N20904) in September. It had anticipated having five in its fleet by the end of the year.

United has 50 787s on order.