The unveiling of United Airlines’ initial route network for its Boeing 787-8 fleet shows the airline remains committed to dropping a proposed service between Houston and Auckland, which once was expected to be one of the carrier’s first destinations for its new widebody.

United was committed to the New Zealand route until Houston’s leaders backed the introduction of international flights from William P. Hobby Airport, a decision that would introduce competition to services at George Bush Intercontinental Airport, home to United’s largest hub operation.

International flights from Hobby mean it is “no longer economically feasible to fly the 787” between Houston and Auckland, says a United spokeswoman.

“Australia and New Zealand continue to be important markets for United, and we remain committed to providing daily service from Melbourne/Sydney to both Los Angeles and San Francisco,” she adds.

But another previously announced Houston 787 route remains in United’s network plan, with a five-weekly nonstop service to Lagos now scheduled to start Jan. 7. A daily 787 nonstop service between Los Angeles International Airport and Tokyo Narita International Airport is also expected to launch Jan. 3.

The first of United’s 50 787s (which includes 36 -8s and 14 -9s) is expected to be delivered in the coming weeks, and five of the -8s are expected to join the fleet by the end of 2012.

Other 787 services planned by United include daily flights between Los Angeles and Shanghai, which are set to begin March 30.

A nonstop between Denver International Airport and Narita, which was unveiled by United after it pulled the Houston-Auckland route, also is scheduled to launch March 31.

The Denver-Narita service is the only new route being added to United’s schedule, the spokeswoman says.

Temporary daily nonstop service from Houston to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport will begin on Dec. 4, United says The airline also plans to operate temporary 787 services from Houston to London Heathrow Airport from Feb. 4, although the airline is not saying how long either of these routes will be served with its 787s.

United also plans to place its 787s on domestic services prior to their placement on the international routes; United will announce this schedule “in the near future.”