FAA Says It Has Not Approved United’s New Routes or Planes — United Says It’s Clear to ‘Begin the Process’ 



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The FAA says it has not approved new planes and routes for United, but the carrier said it has been cleared to begin the process of resuming certification activities.

The Federal Aviation Administration said Thursday that it had not approved United’s ability to launch new routes and planes and that the carrier was still under a safety review. However, United said in an employee memo it had been cleared to begin the process for resuming certification activities.

“The FAA has not approved any expansion of United Airlines’ routes or fleets,” the FAA said in a statement to Skift. “The Certificate Holder Evaluation Program that the FAA is conducting for United is ongoing and safety will determine the timeline for completing it.”

United said earlier that the FAA had told it on Wednesday that it could start the process of resuming certification activities, which include adding new routes and planes, according to a memo the carrier sent to employees that was seen by Skift. 

“Today, we got some good news: after a careful review and discussion about the proactive safety steps United has taken to date, our FAA Certificate Management Office has allowed us to begin the process of restarting our certification activities, including new aircraft and routes, and we will continue to coordinate closely with the FAA,” the memo read.

An FAA spokesperson said the agency is requiring FAA personnel to be present when United conducts inspections of newly delivered aircraft that are set to replace older ones. 

The federal agency increased its oversight of United following a series of widely reported safety- and maintenance-related incidents in March. Due to the review, United had to postpone new routes between Newark and Faro, Portugal and Tokyo and Cebu, Philippines. 

In the memo, United stopped short of saying the safety review was complete. 

“Importantly though, our work with the FAA continues,” the memo read. “There is more work to do, and we remain open to their perspective on things that can make us an even safer airline. That means we will continue to see an FAA presence in our operation as they review our work processes, manuals and facilities.”

Due to the spate of incidents, United CEO Scott Kirby sent a letter to passengers in March, in an attempt to reassure them that safety was its highest priority.

Kirby said in the letter that United would host an extra day of in-person training for pilots, along with a centralized training curriculum for newly hired maintenance technicians. 

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