United to resume 787 flights in May

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United Airlines plans to resume its Boeing 787 flights in May, ahead of an airworthiness directive scheduled for publication on 26 April to lift the grounding on the aircraft type.

United will deploy the 787 on domestic flights in May, followed by the first 787 international flight between Denver and Tokyo Narita on 10 June, says United's chief executive Jeff Smisek today in an earnings call.

The carrier had six 787-8s in its fleet before the US Federal Aviation Administration grounded the aircraft type on 16 January after two incidents involving the lithium-ion batteries on the 787. The FAA plans to publish an airworthiness directive on 26 April that will lift the grounding, after it approved an improved battery design from Boeing on 19 April.

Smisek says United is "pleased" that the FAA gave the green light to the battery changes.

United had planned to launch the Denver-Tokyo Narita flights with the 787 in March but delayed the new route twice following the grounding of the 787. The carrier said in March it expects to launch the flights on 10 June, in line with Smisek's comments today.

The airline will deploy the 787 on its Los Angeles-Tokyo Narita, Los Angeles-Shanghai and Houston-Lagos flights in August, says United's chief revenue officer Jim Compton.