United has added a third long-haul route from Sydney with the start of nonstop flights to Houston with Boeing 787-9s.
The inaugural flight UA101, operated by Boeing 787-9 N35953, touched down at Sydney Airport a little after 0630 on Saturday, following its 17-hour journey from Houston.
The aircraft was on the ground for about six hours before operating UA870 bound for San Francisco. (United Boeing 787-9 N38955 operated the reciprocal UA100 to Houston, which departed just before 1200 on Saturday.)
Houston is United’s largest hub and the airline’s third destination from Sydney alongside existing nonstop flights to Los Angeles and San Francisco. All flights are served with Boeing 787 equipment.
United vice president of international network Patrick Quayle said the new Houston route would offer passengers a greater choice of one-stop itineraries between the US and Sydney.
“United is the largest US carrier offering the most seats between Sydney and the United States and we look forward to continuing to serve as Sydney’s airline of choice,” Quayle said in a statement.
“Our new service to Houston provides customers direct access to one of the country’s largest business centres.
“And it offers customers the opportunity to conveniently connect to hundreds of cities including Miami, Chicago, Boston, New York, Washington DC, Mexico City, Cancun, and more,” Quayle said in a statement.
New Sydney Airport chief executive Geoff Culbert noted the US was Sydney’s third-largest visitor market and the nonstop flight from Houston would make it easier for visitors to travel to Australia.
At 7,470nm, Sydney-Houston will be United’s second-longest flight, just ahead of its San Francisco-Singapore (7,340nm) service and trailing only its Los Angeles-Singapore (7,621nm) nonstop ultra-long-haul route. Both are also operated with 787-9s.
The start of United’s Sydney-Houston service comes as Qantas evaluates new routes for its fleet of 787-9s, as well as plans to serve New York and London non-stop from Australia’s east coast with either the Airbus A350-900ULR or Boeing 777-8X.
United 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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