Exclusive: United Airlines eyes more Australasia and South Pacific services in 2024

by James Wilkinson

United Airlines is looking at adding further destinations and routes in Australasia and the South Pacific in 2024 as the carrier continues its phenomenal growth in the region over the past 18 months.

Speaking exclusively to Wayfarer onboard the inaugural flight from San Francisco to Christchurch last week (Dec 8), United’s Senior Vice President of Global Network Planning and Alliances, Patrick Quayle, said the potential for growth was on the back of a strong commitment to the region.

“Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific in general, is critical for United Airlines,” he said.

“We were committed to the whole region throughout COVID other airlines pulled back and stopped. I mean, we’re the only airline to connect Australia to the United States, the only airline.

“So, what we’ve been able to do is change the perception of United, grow the brand and grow the market.

“You know, we now have four flights a day in the winter season into Sydney. We have two flights into Melbourne and two flights into Brisbane as well as you know. We also have two flights into Auckland from Los Angeles and San Francisco and our new Christchurch route.

“So, we are coming on full force,” he told Wayfarer.

With 150 firm orders for brand new Boeing 787 Dreamliners – the largest and a world-record setting Dreamliner orderbook on record – United has the ability for immense growth and Quayle said Australasia and the South Pacific was firmly in the spotlight for new destinations and routes.

“We’re just getting started (in the region) and there’s a lot more opportunity in New Zealand, Australia and the South Pacific,” he said.

While Quayle was unable to reveal any specific new routes or destinations – such as markets without service like the Fiji Islands – the carrier is confident of future growth.

“There is a lot of potential,” he said. “I’m not going to comment on specifics, but we absolutely have a lot of potential like you said with 150 Dreamliners coming.

“You can connect any two dots,” Quayle told Wayfarer.

United has had significant growth over the past 12 months in the region, with new services from Los Angeles and San Francisco to Brisbane, Los Angeles to Auckland and extra daily Sydney flights to San Francisco.

Quayle said Brisbane’s growth, in particular, has been spectacular.

“When we started a year ago, it was three flights a week, just from San Francisco,” he said. “Now we’re running a daily San Francisco service and three times out of Los Angeles.

A lot of demand for United’s new flights is thanks to the carrier’s key partnerships, according to Quayle.

“It really comes down to two things – our partnership with Air New Zealand in New Zealand and our partnership with Virgin Australia in Australia,” he said.

“What we see is that when people fly down to Australia or New Zealand, they want to go in and out of different ports.

“And by us having service to all of these ports, we can capitalise off of that globally,” Quayle said.

United’s new Christchurch flights have already proven to be a hit for United Airlines and partner Air New Zealand, which can connect American passengers to the South Island better than ever before.