United Airlines will dramatically boost capacity to Australia and New Zealand later this year, aiming to take advantage of a rebound in international travel and strengthening partnerships along the way. The carrier will launch service from Los Angeles to Auckland and Brisbane, as well as from San Francisco to Christchurch. It will also increase capacity from San Francisco to Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane.
Our strong partnerships with Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia provide unparalleled connectivity, and with our historic expansion across five destinations in New Zealand and Australia, United is the clear choice for customers’ travel to the region.– Patrick Quayle, Senior Vice President of Global Network Planning and Alliances
A New route to New Zealand
Christchurch has not seen nonstop service to the US since 2006 when Air New Zealand operated to Los Angeles (continuing to London). In 2019 American Airlines announced plans to fill that gap the following year but the pandemic made sure that didn’t happen. United will bring that connection online starting 1 December 2023 from its San Francisco hub rather than Los Angeles. The flights will operate 3x weekly on a 787-8.
United will also boost its Auckland service with 4x weekly flights from Los Angeles, adding to the San Francisco flights. These will operate on a 787-9. And, thanks to its partnership with Air New Zealand, United will be able to move passengers onward from Christchurch and Auckland to help fill the planes.
It is also perhaps worth noting that Air New Zealand parked its 777s during the pandemic only to bring some out of retirement as demand rebounded. United’s additional capacity in the market will help relieve pressure to recover even more quickly there.
Adding access to Australia
For the Australian market, United will add LA-Brisbane service 3x weekly on a 787-9 from 29 November. It also offers daily service from San Francisco. Brisbane is home to Virgin Australia, which United recently signed up as a partner.
Virgin Australia took advantage of the bankruptcy process to shed significant debt, as well as its long-haul fleet. Depending on its US partner for the lift across the Pacific allows the Australian end of the operation to focus on single-aisle operations. And thus far Virgin Australia’s recovery on that front is beating most expectations.
United will also increase capacity on the San Francisco-Sydney route, running both of its daily frequencies on the 777-300ER, the largest plane it has available. The 777-300ER will also fly San Francisco-Melbourne, boosting capacity in that market.
For November 2023 through March 2024 United will offer more flights between the US and Australia than any other airline according to data form Cirium. And, despite Qantas having the A380 available in its fleet again, United will also offer more seats across that same period. And that’s before the LA-Brisbane flight is reflected in the capacity.
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