United Hopes To Save Fuel By Operating UPR Flights Over Russia

United Airlines has performed a significant milestone in operations over Russia. The carrier completed the first-ever user preferred route (UPR) over the nation’s airspace. This move is not only a major landmark when it comes to diplomatic relations, but it is also a crucial step in reducing fuel burn on transpacific trips.

United 777
United is breaking ground when it comes to flights across the Pacific Ocean. Photo: Getty Images

A different approach

A UPR is a unique flight path for each plane, which they can follow instead of the conventional approach of flying along preset aviation routes set by air traffic controllers. For many years, the Chicago outfit and Russia have been striving to reach a conclusion that would allow the airline’s operations to deviate from preset flight paths over the country’s airspace.

These amendments would be made based on the conditions at the time of the flight. UPR flights are also called ad-hoc routes or free flights due to them not adhering to predetermined routes. Ultimately, the target is to use the most economical flight path possible.

United will be making use of these UPR flights from its hubs across the US. Photo: Getty Images

A great start

Subsequently, on June 3rd, cargo flight UA2865 arrived at Hong Kong from Chicago while flying over Russian airspace on a UPR route. The Boeing 777-300ER departed Chicago O’Hare International at 12:10. Thereafter, it landed at Hong Kong International at 16:00.

This was the first service to be granted the right to this type of flight over Russian airspace. The key change in the route happened over the East Siberian Sea.

United Flight
A map showing the route on June 3rd. Photo: FlightRadar24.com

According to Live And Let’s Fly, United said the following regarding route:

“By making just a minor change in our routing over the water, we saved ourselves 30 nautical miles flown, which cut five minutes from the original flight time and reduced our fuel burn by 1,760 pounds. That equated to a 5,440-pound reduction in carbon emissions.”

Now, United is looking to take advantage of this progress for flights on other Asian routes from across the United States. One of these operations is the service from San Francisco to Delhi, which the firm is looking to restart in July.

United 737-900
United is looking to be more sustainable with its services. Photo: Getty Images

Highly-effective transition

There are considerable savings to be made environmentally and economically with these Russian UPR routes. Over the year, United could save the following:

  • Over 116 hours of flight time.
  • 76,160,000 pounds of carbon emissions.
  • $665,000 in direct fuel costs.
  • 24,600,000 pounds of fuel.

Altogether, United can feel optimistic about this development as the door is now open. With the first flight being a success, the operator can look forward to progressing further with this initiative.

Simple Flying reached out to United Airlines for further comment on its UPR flight over Russia. We will update the article with any announcements.

What are your thoughts about this breakthrough for United? Is this a positive move for the airline? Let us know what you think in the comment section.