United Continental Holdings Inc.  (UAL)  said it fully expects to restart service at Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport on Thursday afternoon, providing a powerful symbol that the city can start to recover from the impact of Hurricane Harvey.

Service Thursday would be limited to no more than a few dozen mainline flights to hub cities, United spokesman Charles Hobart said Wednesday afternoon.

United's hubs, ranked by daily departures, include Chicago, Houston, Newark, Denver, San Francisco, Washington Dulles and Los Angeles.

Hobart did not specify a startup time: United previously had said 1 p.m. CT on Thursday. No international departures are planned for Thursday.

United currently has about 30 mainline aircraft parked in Houston; they are expected to depart on Thursday.

About 40 regional aircraft are also parked in Houston, but Hobart said United will not operate regional flights at least until the weekend.

"Customers should expect cancellations particularly on regional flights to continue throughout the weekend," Hobart said.

He said the shutdown of Houston's airports on Friday has had an impact on United's network operations, but noted: "We were prepared for this well before the storm impacted Texas, getting crews into position, so the impact has been limited."

Normally United offers 483 daily departures including 218 mainline departures from Houston.

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This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.

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