United plans Chengdu service on 787

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United Airlines plans to launch new nonstop flights between San Francisco and Chengdu, China, on a Boeing 787-8 in 2014.

The new service will operate three-times weekly from 9 June 2014, pending US government approval, the Chicago-based Star Alliance carrier says.

The US Department of Transportation (DOT) is likely to approve the proposed flights as it has unused US-China frequencies available to US airlines.

Flights between San Francisco International and Chengdu Shuangliu International airports would be the second new route launched by United with its 219-seat 787s. The first was Denver-Tokyo Narita this past June.

The route would also be the first by a US carrier beyond China's heavily populated east coast, where American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United all serve Beijing and Shanghai Pudong. Delta previously flew to Guangzhou.

No carriers fly between Chengdu and San Francisco - or anywhere in the USA - Innovata schedules show.

Brian Znotins, vice-president of network at United, told Flightglobal in May that China and India were two "hot" markets that were ideal for more 787 services. He named possible second tier cities in China, including Changchun and Guangzhou as possible future destinations.

The airline will have 10 787s in its fleet by June 2014, Flightglobal's Ascend Online database shows.