United Airlines will operate non-stop flights from Los Angeles to Melbourne with Boeing 787-9s from October 28, making the Victorian capital the airline’s first international destination for its forthcoming 787-9 fleet.
The 252-seat configured 787-9s will operate between LA and Melbourne six days a week, replacing United’s existing Melbourne-LA flights which operate as an extension of its Sydney services. Consequently United says it also plans to retime its Sydney-LA and Sydney-San Francisco flights to allow better connections through LA to New York and other US East Coast destinations.
“We are excited about using the newest version of the game-changing Dreamliner, the 787-9, to provide non-stop trans-Pacific service from Melbourne for the first time,” said Jim Compton, United’s vice chairman and chief revenue officer.
“Our Melbourne customers will enjoy faster journeys to Los Angeles and beyond, as well as improved inflight comfort and amenities, and at the same time we will seek to make changes to our Sydney schedule which will enable faster connections via our San Francisco and Los Angeles hubs to destinations throughout the Americas.”
The 787-9s will be configured with 48 BusinessFirst, 63 Economy Plus and 141 standard economy class seats. United is the North American launch customer and operator for the 787. To date it has nine 787-8s in service, with a further 56 787s on order.
In the meantime, United is due to replace the 747-400 with 777-200ERs on its flights to Sydney and Melbourne from March 29.
Melbourne will be the second Australian port to receive 787-9 services, with Air New Zealand planning Auckland-Perth flights from mid-October.
Interestingly, Continental, pre-dating its merger with United, had planned to operate the 787-8 on direct service between Houston and Auckland. These plans were dropped by the newly merged airline in mid-2012 as part of a disagreement over the expansion of Houston’s second airport to allow international flights.