Dreamliner 787 returns to skies with flight from Houston
HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Overcoming some serious battery problems, United Airlines Dreamliners are back in business. The first of its fleet to take flight since the FAA grounding lifted off from Bush Intercontinental Airport Monday morning.
The United Dreamliner flight had more than 250 people on board. It made it to Chicago without any problems.
The plane was supposed help the image of United Airlines, but the Boeing-manufactured aircraft only created headaches for both companies. Now with the problems fixed, United is trying to move forward during a time when airfare continues to rise.
There was little pomp and circumstance involved as United Airlines re-launched its 787 Dreamliner. Its fleet of six were grounded for, four months due to safety concerns.
"It was a fairly expensive sculpture to have on the ground. So we are really delighted to have it up and flying," United Airlines CEO Jeff Smisek said.
Two fires, sparked by overheating lithium ion batteries, created a PR nightmare for United, the first U.S. company to purchase the planes, and Boeing, the manufacturer of the Dreamliner.
"We are very sorry about the delay that has been caused by some of the technology workarounds that we've had to implement over the last month or two. But the promise of this airplane remains unchanged," Boeing CEO Jeff McNearney said.
The Dreamliner has been billed as having more on board amenities that any commercial plane before it, all while using 20 percent less fuel due to its innovative construction.
Grounded since January, the 787 will take to the skies for summer travel. Its reentry into service, though, won't help rising ticket prices seen from every U.S. airline.
"I think that there are less flights. I think that they are using smaller aircraft and/or," said Linda De Sosa with Woodlake Travel.
Over the last 12 to 18 months, airlines have continuously added more fees, including more fuel surcharges.
"Going to Orlando, going to Vegas, those used to be cheap little flights. And it's all the airlines, it's not just United," De Sosa said.
Despite the rising prices, De Sosa says in her 18 years as a travel agent, last year was her best, and 2013 is on par to beat it.
Houstonians are traveling, and the 787 Dreamliner is once again another option.
"Hopefully, all the kinks have been worked out and I have faith and confidence that it all will go well, and I'm glad to be a part of it," traveler Sheila Slater said.
United will to continue to ramp up its domestic service flights, and then move to international service, offering a flight from Denver to Tokyo.
local, erik barajas
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