United Airlines is closing its 787 base in Houston and moving it to Washington Dulles.
Starting with the Winter 2017 schedule (begins on 29 October 2017), United will operate the Dreamliner to:
- London Heathrow
- Paris Charles de Gaulle
- Sao Paulo Guarulhos
Frankfurt and Tokyo will remain 777s and other cities in Europe will remain on a mix of 767s and 757s.
Meanwhile in Houston, no international routes will be cut as a result of this change. Houston to Frankfurt will move to a 777 while Houston to Rio will move to a 767-300ER. The Houston – Denver repositioning flight will be cut, replaced by a San Francisco to Denver 787 to supply DEN with its aircraft to Tokyo Narita.
This Move is About Aircraft Utilization
Yesterday I wrote about United scrapping its flight between Seoul and Tokyo Narita and moving back three 737s to the mainland. The rationale: the aircraft can be better utilized with mainland flying.
A similar rationale underlies this change. United expects to free up the equivalent of one additional 787 of flying time by moving the 787 base to Washington Dulles.
This move also suggests that yields have not been as strong on the Beijing route.
No pilots will lose their jobs and 777s and 787s offer the same pay levels. Pilots will have to be re-trained on the new aircraft types, however.
United Fleet Changes
The carrier will add to its fleet, increasing overall capacity 2.5-2.5% this year despite the 747 retirements:
- 6 Airbus A319s
- 4 737-800s
- 12 777-300ERs
- 3 787-9s
- 24 Embraer 175s
As mentioned, United will also retire 20 Boeing 747-400s throughout the year.
Thankfully, this aircraft shuffle will not affect any routes (thus far). Customers in Washington Dulles who now can fly on the 787s will benefit from better upgrade ratios and a 2-2-2 configuration on flights to Beijing as opposed to the 2-4-2 business class config on the 777. On the flip-side, Polaris First will no longer be an option to PEK.