A321 neo United Airlines
A321 neo United Airlines Image Credit: Supplied

United Airlines Holdings Inc. can again add new planes and routes after the Federal Aviation Administration eased restrictions, a sign of progress after a series of safety issues led to a clampdown on the carrier's operations.

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The agency will allow those certification activities to resume "after a careful review and discussion about the proactive safety steps United has taken to date," the airline said in a message to employees Wednesday night that was seen by Bloomberg. The FAA review is ongoing, the carrier said.

"There is more work to do, and we remain open to their perspective on things that can make us an even safer airline," United said.

Authorities took steps to temporarily limit the carrier's growth in recent months and review its safety procedures following a series of headline-grabbing incidents. Among them, a wheel fell off a plane just after takeoff, an aircraft veered off a runway and a piece of a fuselage came loose in flight. Airline safety throughout the US has been under heightened scrutiny since a fuselage panel broke off an Alaska Airlines flight on Jan. 5.

United earlier had to delay two new routes set to start this summer and at least three Boeing Co. 737 Max 9 deliveries because they could not be added to the carrier's operating certificate during the FAA review.

Chief Executive Officer Scott Kirby said recently that the Chicago-based carrier was "embracing" the FAA evaluation as an opportunity to improve what it considers to be an already high level of safety. United simultaneously has been conducting an internal review to determine if its safety procedures or training need to change.

A United spokesman declined to comment on what changes the airline made that convinced the FAA to lift the freeze, or on the status of the internal review. The FAA didn't immediately comment.

The carrier's shares rose 1% at 9:33 am in New York.