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United Applies to Become First U.S. Carrier to Fly Nonstop between Houston and Tokyo-Haneda Airports

United Flight Diverts to Shannon, After Stuck Laptop in Business Class Seat

United Airlines declared today that it submitted an application to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) for daily nonstop flights connecting Houston’s Bush Intercontinental Airport to Tokyo’s Haneda Airport.

Pending approval, United would be the inaugural U.S. carrier to provide nonstop service between Houston and Haneda. The introduction of this route is anticipated to benefit the rapidly expanding population of the Houston region, along with 240+ Japanese-affiliated companies and consumers residing in communities throughout the Southern U.S.

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These flights will link 64 communities in the Southern U.S. to Haneda, constituting approximately 575,000 yearly bookings to Tokyo, or 21% of all U.S. mainland to Tokyo demand. In comparison, Houston currently has only one flight to Haneda (operated by a foreign carrier), while New York/Newark has five, Los Angeles has seven, Chicago has three, and Washington, D.C., and Dallas/Fort Worth each have two.

This new route aims to establish greater equity among major markets while offering increased seat availability and travel flexibility for both business and leisure travelers.

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Patrick Quayle, Senior Vice President of Global Network Planning and Alliances at United Airlines, highlighted the transformation of the Houston area into a vital hub for business and leisure travel due to its growing population and flourishing energy and innovation sectors.

240+ affiliated businesses in Houston

If approved by the DOT, this new service is expected to enhance travel options to Tokyo Haneda for consumers across the Southern United States and strengthen the economic partnership between Japan and the 240+ affiliated businesses in the greater Houston area.

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United Airlines, the largest airline in Houston, boasts over 14,000 employees and more than 400 daily departures, including 70 international daily departures. According to a study by Compass Lexecon, United’s IAH hub and spending by foreign visitors to Houston on United and Star Alliance member flights contribute an estimated $5.3 billion annually to Texas’s gross domestic product, with United’s direct employment in Houston contributing $1.2 billion to economic activity in 2022.

Houston is a significant center of commerce for healthcare, manufacturing, and primarily, the energy industry. The city and the state of Texas have established crucial economic ties with Japan through Houston’s role as an energy powerhouse. Last month, Houston was selected by the U.S. Department of Energy as one of seven regional clean hydrogen hubs, with support from Japanese subsidiary Mitsubishi Power Americas.

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Japanese-owned companies directly employ over 70,000 workers in Texas, including over 240 Japanese-affiliated companies in Houston. Texas is home to 53 Fortune 500 companies, with 24 located in the immediate Houston vicinity. According to the Texas Development Corporation, Japanese companies have recorded 119 investment projects in Texas over the last decade, accounting for $6.9 billion in capital investment and 19,620 new jobs.

Conversely, Texas companies have recorded 25 investment projects in Japan, responsible for $799 million in capital investment and 1,667 new jobs. Beyond economic ties, Houston’s relationship with Japan extends to hosting the country’s regional Consulate-General.

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He is an aviation journalist and the founder of Jetline Marvel. Dawal gained a comprehensive understanding of the commercial aviation industry.  He has worked in a range of roles for more than 9 years in the aviation and aerospace industry. He has written more than 1700 articles in the aerospace industry. When he was 19 years old, he received a national award for his general innovations and holds the patent. He completed two postgraduate degrees simultaneously, one in Aerospace and the other in Management. Additionally, he authored nearly six textbooks on aviation and aerospace tailored for students in various educational institutions. jetlinem4(at)gmail.com

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United Flight Diverts to Shannon, After Stuck Laptop in Business Class Seat

United Flight Diverts to Shannon, After Stuck Laptop in Business Class Seat

A United Airlines flight from Zurich to Chicago O’Hare was forced to make an emergency diversion to Shannon, Ireland.

On Saturday afternoon after a passenger got their laptop wedged in a Business Class seat aboard the Boeing 767-300. Operating as United Flight 12, the aircraft departed from Flughafen Zürich at 9:46 a.m. local time and took off at 10:08 a.m.

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The captain decided to divert the flight not because the passenger couldn’t access their laptop, but because any device powered by lithium-ion batteries that becomes inaccessible could pose a significant safety risk.

Such devices, if damaged or overheated, could lead to a thermal runaway event, potentially causing a fire on board. The Boeing 767-300, featuring United’s relatively new Polaris business-class cabin, landed safely at Shannon Airport in County Clare at 1:43 p.m. IST (Irish Summer Time) and reached the gate at 1:51 p.m.

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In a statement, United Airlines acknowledged the diversion: “United flight 12 scheduled from Zurich to Chicago landed safely in Shannon to address a potential safety risk caused by a laptop being stuck in an inaccessible location.” This situation led to the cancellation of the flight, and the airline is working to reroute the 157 passengers who found themselves unexpectedly in Ireland.

Frequent flyers are often reminded in airline safety videos not to move their seats if they lose mobile phones or other gadgets powered by lithium-ion batteries within the seats. Attempting to retrieve such items by moving the seat can damage the battery and potentially cause a dangerous situation.

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Air India Flight Collides with Tug Tractor, at Pune Airport

Air India Flight Collides with Tug Tractor, at Pune Airport

An Air India flight bound for Delhi faced an unexpected hurdle during its taxi towards the runway at Pune Airport on Thursday, May 16th.

The aircraft, carrying 180 passengers, encountered a collision with a tug tractor, though fortunately, no injuries were reported among the passengers or crew. The incident, while causing significant damage to the aircraft, triggered swift emergency protocols, ensuring the safety of all individuals involved.

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Upon the mishap, passengers were promptly disembarked from the plane, and alternative arrangements were made for their accommodation as they found themselves stranded at the airport. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has initiated an inquiry to ascertain the cause of the collision, according to ANI reports.

Preliminary findings suggest that the tug truck, utilized for maneuvering the aircraft on the ground, inadvertently struck the plane during the taxiing process. Despite the incident, airport operations continued with minimal disruption. However, the affected aircraft was temporarily withdrawn from service for comprehensive inspection and necessary repairs.

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Air India, in response to the situation, assured passengers of full refunds and complimentary rescheduling. The airline’s statement conveyed, “There was an incident related to one of our aircraft, which was to operate Pune to Delhi, at the time of its pushback. The aircraft was held back for checks, all passengers were offloaded safely, and the flight was cancelled.”

Passengers affected by the cancellation were provided with refunds and the option for rescheduling their travel plans without additional charges. The damage to the aircraft, primarily located near the belly where the pushback tug made contact, underscores the need for a thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding the collision.

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After Flight Cancellation, Virgin Atlantic Passengers Told to Arrange Own Hotels

After Flight Cancellation, Virgin Atlantic Passengers Told to Arrange Own Hotels

Ian Field and his partner Jane, both residents of the London area, faced an unexpected and costly ordeal while on a trip to St. Lucia in the Caribbean.

The couple, who had flown out from Heathrow on Virgin Atlantic flight VS221 on May 5, discovered upon arrival that their May 15 return flight was canceled for “operational reasons.” Despite Virgin Atlantic’s explanation, Field suspected the cancellation was due to a lack of passengers, as the airline is set to cease the route after May 19.

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Stranded on the island, Field and Jane were left to fend for themselves for two additional nights. Both Virgin Atlantic and their travel agency, Blue Bay Travel, failed to provide assistance or accommodation, forcing the couple to pay over £400 out of pocket for their hotel stay.

Virgin Atlantic advised those without sufficient funds to seek financial help from family members, which added to the couple’s frustration. “We feel completely abandoned and let down terribly,” Field expressed to The Independent.

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The lack of response from Virgin Atlantic and the unhelpful attitude of the travel agent exacerbated their distress. Although Field and his partner could afford the unexpected expense, he expressed concern for those who might not be in a similar financial position.

In response, a Virgin Atlantic spokesperson stated that all affected customers were rebooked on alternative flights and could amend their bookings through the airline’s “rebook me” function if needed. The spokesperson apologized for the delay and inconvenience, assuring that customers would receive EC261 compensation of £520 per person and be reimbursed for any out-of-pocket expenses incurred.

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