United to add 787 base in San Francisco as fleet expands

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United Airlines will open a Boeing 787 pilot base at San Francisco International airport in September, as it continues to expand its fleet of Dreamliners.

The new domicile will help the Chicago-based carrier meet the staffing needs of its growing fleet of 11 787s, it says. It has added three 787-8s to its fleet since the beginning of 2014 and plans to add another -8 and two -9s by the end of December.

United has firm orders for one 787-8, 26 787-9s and 27 787-10s including the three remaining deliveries this year, based on Flightglobal’s calculations and the Ascend Fleets database.

The carrier anticipates having about 25 787 pilots at San Francisco initially with plans to increase the number to about 80 in the future, it says.

Staffing levels at United's existing 787 bases at Houston Intercontinental and Los Angeles International will remain unchanged.

San Francisco is a logical choice for a 787 base. United will operate 80 flights on a Dreamliner from the airport in August, Innovata FlightMaps Analytics shows. This is second only to the 134 flights from Houston Intercontinental the same month.

The airline will operate 67 flights on the aircraft from Los Angeles in August.

United uses the 787 on all of its flights to Chengdu and Osaka Kansai from San Francisco, and on select flights to Houston Intercontinental.

The carrier continues to expand its 787 operations across the Pacific. Los Angeles-Melbourne service on the 787-9 will begin on 26 October and it plans to shift its new San Francisco-Tokyo Haneda flight to the Dreamliner in the future.

United will launch a daily flight on the Tokyo Haneda route with a Boeing 777-200 on 26 October.

The airline introduced the 787 with a sole pilot base in Houston in 2012 and added the Los Angeles base in late 2013.