United to begin deploying 757s on Dulles transatlantic routes

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United-Continental has unveiled plans to begin using Continental-operated Boeing 757s on transatlantic routes from Washington Dulles as part of the next phase of its aircraft redeployment project.

A London-based United-Continental spokesman confirms Continental will operate a 757-200 service from Dulles to Paris Charles de Gaulle starting on 9 June. United Continental currently serves this route with one daily United-operated 777, which the spokesman says will initially continue to operate alongside the new second 757 flight. But he says from 29 September the 777 flight will also be replaced by a Continental-operated 757-200, resulting in two daily 757 frequencies between Dulles and Paris.

According to Innovata, United-Continental now competes against Air France and BA's Open Skies unit between Washington and Paris. Air France currently operates 10 weekly 777 flights between Dulles and Charles de Gaulle while Open Skies operates three weekly 757 flights to Dulles from Paris Orly. Air France plans to begin using the A380 on the route from 2 June.

United-Continental's spokesman says the carrier's once daily Dulles-Amsterdam flight will also switch on 1 September from a United 767-300 to a Continental 757-200.

This marks the first time United has used 757s for its Dulles transatlantic operation. United currently has 96 757-200s in its fleet but they are not equipped for transatlantic operations. Continental, which according to Flightglobal's ACAS database has 41 757-200s and 21 757-300s, has operated a large 757 transatlantic operation for many years, primarily from its Newark hub.

At Newark, the United-Continental spokesman says the carrier will switch on 10 June its once daily Zurich flight from a Continental 767-200 to a United 767-300. He says on 29 September the carrier's Newark-Geneva service will switch from a Continental 767-400 to a United 777.

The transatlantic gauge changes follow earlier aircraft redeployments within United-Continental on other routes. For example, the spokesman says as of today the Houston-Lima route switched from a Continental 757-200 to a United 767-300.

"The 767-300 can capitalise on cargo opportunities on the route, while also better meeting passenger demand with 29 percent more seats," he explains. "In turn, the 757 gets assigned to missions more suited to its capabilities."

United and Continental completed their merger last October but the two airlines continue to operate under separate certificates. The company's entire mainline fleet of over 700 aircraft is expected to eventually transfer to a single certificate next year.

In the meantime the spokesman says that as the new company moves forward with continuing integration efforts "we have numerous opportunities to better match a specific airplane type to a particular mission. We are beginning to redeploy our fleet to best serve our markets and optimise business results."