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Qantas faces new competition from Virgin partner United

written by Jake Nelson | April 19, 2023

United Airlines will hugely expand its Australian and New Zealand operations later this year following its breakthrough codeshare agreement with Virgin Australia.

The news will see Qantas face a contest on its currently exclusive route between Brisbane and LA as well as its planned service between Sydney and San Francisco, launching in May.

Other services include new direct flights from LAX to Auckland and San Francisco to Brisbane, Melbourne and Christchurch. In total, United will operate 66 flights between the US and Australia/New Zealand every week.

United last year inked a code-sharing agreement with Virgin Australia, ending Virgin’s long-standing partnership with United rival Delta Air Lines.


Codeshares are a more formal tie-up than interline service agreements and allow customers to connect using a single bag drop and booking, as well as share loyalty perks. The new flights to Australia, combined with its partnership with Virgin, mean it could become a major international carrier in the APAC region.

“This past winter, United enhanced our network and became the largest carrier to the South Pacific region. Now, this upcoming winter, we will expand even further,” said Patrick Quayle, Senior Vice President of Global Network Planning and Alliances at United.

“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.”

Brisbane Airport Corporation CEO Gert-Jan de Graaff said the new non-stop LAX services to Brisbane, as well as increasing San Francisco flights to a daily schedule, will see United triple its services between the US and Brisbane to 10 per week by 1 December 2023.

“As Brisbane Airport welcomes more than 75 per cent of all international arrivals into Queensland, partnering with United to increase SFO frequencies and add new non-stop LAX services is terrific news for tourism and hospitality businesses from Coolangatta to the Cape.

“These new and more frequent services are great news for jobs and the economy and offer Queenslanders even more direct connections to United Airlines’ extensive network across North America.”

The new and expanded routes include:

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