United will add a third long-haul route from Sydney from January 2018 when it starts nonstop flights to Houston with Boeing 787-9s.
The Star Alliance member says the new Sydney-Houston service will open up more one-stop options for passengers travelling between Australia and the United States.
“Our Houston hub is stronger than ever and it continues to be an absolutely vital part of our industry-leading network,” United president Scott Kirby said in a statement on Thursday (US time).
“This new route will serve more than 70 cities across North America making one-stop service to Sydney faster and more convenient than ever before.”
The United statement noted a passenger originating in Charlotte and travelling to Sydney on United would currently fly to Chicago and then San Francisco before making the trans-Pacific flight to Sydney.
When the Houston-Sydney services launches on January 18, that passenger would have a one-stop itinerary, transiting over Houston en route to Sydney.
The flights have been scheduled as a lunchtime departure from Sydney and an overnight service from Houston.
Currently, United flies from Sydney to Los Angeles and San Francisco, as well as from Melbourne to Los Angeles, with Boeing 787 equipment.
At 7,470nm, Sydney-Houston will be United’s second-longest nonstop flight alongside its San Francisco-Singapore (7,340nm) and Los Angeles-Singapore (7,621nm) services that are also operated with 787-9s.
The airline’s move to launch flights from Sydney to Houston comes as Qantas evaluates new routes for its soon-to-arrive 787-9s, as well as plans to serve New York and London non-stop from Australia’s east coast with either the Boeing 777-8X or Airbus A350-900ULR.
It will also go head-to-head against Qantas’s Airbus A380 Sydney-Dallas/Fort Worth flight.
Further, United may also take away from passengers from Australia who are travelling to the United States via Air New Zealand’s Auckland hub.
The Kiwi flag carrier has been aggressively targeting the Australian market for its flights to the Americas, where it flies to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, Vancouver and Buenos Aires.
United’s 787-9s feature 48 business, 63 extra-legroom “economy plus” and 141 seats economy seats for a total 252.
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