United switches San Francisco-Auckland to seasonal schedule

United flight UA971 arrives at Auckland. (Auckland Airport/Facebook)
A file image of United’s return to Auckland for the first time in 13 years in July 2016. (Auckland Airport/Facebook)

United is switching its San Francisco-Auckland flights from a year-round to seasonal service from April 2017.

The schedule change was outlined in an Air New Zealand note to travel agents.

“Air New Zealand wishes to advise our alliance partner United Airlines will adjust its schedule for services between San Francisco and Auckland in order to better match capacity on the route with seasonal demand,” Air New Zealand said in a note to travel agents on January 6.

Under the new schedule, United will stop flying between San Francisco and Auckland between April 16 2017 and October 28 2017, leaving Air New Zealand as the only operator on the route.

The US carrier will resume daily services to Auckland from San Francisco from November 2017, and increase its schedule to 10 times weekly over the peak summer holiday period between December 2017 and March 2018.

United returned to Auckland in July 2016, ending a 13-year absence in New Zealand.

It is flying the route in partnership with Air New Zealand, as the two Star Alliance members have a revenue-sharing joint-venture on New Zealand-US routes that commenced with United’s return to New Zealand.

The JV deepened an existing partnership that has been in place since 2001, with the pair codesharing on each other’s networks and cooperating on frequent flyer benefits and distribution.

The trans-Pacific market has experienced a big lift in capacity in the past year or so, with Qantas resuming Sydney-San Francisco in December 2015, American entering Sydney-Los Angeles (December 2015) and Auckland-Los Angeles (June 2016), Air Canada commencing Brisbane-Vancouver (June 2016) and Air New Zealand starting Auckland-Houston services in December 2015.

And there is more to come in 2017, with Virgin Australia returning to the Melbourne-Los Angeles route from April 2017 after dropping the nonstop service in 2014.

Meanwhile Qantas said in December 2016 Melbourne-Los Angeles would be the airline’s first international route with the 787-9. The Dreamliner will fly six times a week between Melbourne and Los Angeles from December 2017, which would lift the number of Qantas services on the route to 13 flights a week, compared with nine currently.

Comments

  1. Peter J Ashford says

    You can be sure that this isn’t some new strategy; this would have been in the operational strategy well before the SFO AKL service started. UA will use the dedicated aircraft for SFO AKL, to better use in the Northern Hemisphere summer period.

    Just a shame that UA couldn’t inform the trade/media PRIOR to start up that this would happen.

  2. Christopher says

    I’m kind of surprised in the difference between the two seasons. From zero flights a week to 10 flights a week! I would’ve thought that at least 3-4 weekly could’ve been maintained in the low season.

  3. Jason says

    Noting the route is a JV between UA and Air NZ, some capacity is retained henceI wouldn’t be surprised to see Air NZ pick up some of this capacity reduction in order to support the NZ ski season

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