CHICAGO (CBS4/AP) — United Airlines says it will fly its new Boeing 787s from Denver to Tokyo starting in March 2013.

The Denver flights that went on sale on Tuesday are the first 787 tickets to be offered by a U.S. airline. Boeing delivered the first 787 to Japan’s All Nippon Airways late last year, three years late.

The Denver flights start March 31. It’s not certain whether those will be the first 787 flights on a U.S. airline, because United could still add another route between now and then.

“I want to recognize the efforts of Mayor Hancock, Kim Day, Manager of Aviation, and her team at Denver International Airport, and the business and civic leaders in Denver who have worked together to bring this great new international destination to our customers in Denver,” said Jeff Smisek, United’s President and CEO.

“It took a long while to convince everyone that we had a strong market here. We actually have 550 passengers a day that are Asia bound,” Day said. “I think maybe the magic thing about today is the 787 aircraft, which can do long distances. It’s the right size for our market; it’s very environmentally efficient.”

united tokyo flight map United To Fly 787s From Denver To Tokyo

(credit: CBS)

Airlines have been eager for the fuel-efficient, midsized plane. Continental Airlines was originally going to be the first U.S. airline to fly it. Continental and United merged in 2010 to form United Continental Holdings Inc.

It’s estimated that the route will bring in about $130 million in economic impact every year to Colorado. It’s also anticipated the new route will make Denver more competitive and possibly a destination for future businesses looking to relocate.

Tokyo will be the 22nd international city to get direct airline service from DIA. Most of those flights are to Canada, Mexico, and Central America. There are also non-stop flights to three cities in Europe — London, Frankfurt, and the most recent addition — Reykjavik, Iceland.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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