United Airlines boosts Los Angeles-Sydney flights

Step by step, the Star Alliance member rebuilds its Australia-US routes.

By David Flynn, November 23 2020
United Airlines boosts Los Angeles-Sydney flights

United Airlines will ramp up its returned Sydney-Los Angeles service from December 1, with five flights per week making the 14-hour trans-Pacific trek.

Those flights – which depart Sydney on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday – will supplement the ongoing daily service between Sydney and San Francisco, and run on a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner fitted with the airline's pre-Polaris business class seating.

The inbound flights are subject to strict capacity limits in line with the arrivals cap at Sydney Airport, which has seen may aircraft limited to 30-50 paying passengers on aircraft which would typically carry 250-350 travellers.

A spokesman for United Airlines told Executive Traveller the flights are in place  "to support Australian residents needing to return home, medical professionals, as well as the transport of critical cargo shipments of essential medical supplies, PPE, and mail."

As a rule, cargo is showing a greater weight than passenger headcount on international flights across United's network due to many countries implementing strict quarantine requirements under the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We are proud to offer continuous service between Australia and the US and provide Australian customers in the US with an option to return home conveniently," remarked Julie Reid, United’s director of Sales for Australia, New Zealand, and Tahiti.

"We will continue to provide this essential air service and maintain our connectivity between two countries."

This time last year, the highly-competitive skies between Australia and the USA hosted five airlines carrying thousands of passengers every day on seventeen non-stop routes.

While some US airlines are taking a measured approach to resuming services, Qantas is not expected to return to the USA until at least the end of 2021.

"With the US, with the level of prevalence there it's probably going to take some time and probably going to need a vaccine before we could see that happening," Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce noted earlier this year, and would be dependent on widespread uptake of a vaccine.

Read more: Qantas closes bookings on US, UK flights to October 2021


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

KW72 Banned
KW72 Banned

17 Jun 2020

Total posts 242

Meanwhile Qantas frequency = 0.

Good to see United supporting the need for Australians to return home, and providing continuous service since Covid became a thing. 

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 783

More likely they've got enough freight contracts to make it work. Good on them for making it happen.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1192

Qantas are also still operating their wet-leased Atlas 748Fs for freight from US so freight capacity is still in place.  

There is no point QF operating the route for returning pax.  UA and AA have much more capacity than can currently be accepted so typically fly with very light pax loads.  QF operating a 789 on the route would not enable the number of returning pax to increase.  This is limited by the restrictions on numbers of arrivals that each state prescribe not the airline capacity.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Jul 2011

Total posts 60

Well said. I roll my eyes every time someone comments about Qantas not flying passengers internationally at the moment. Its like the comments about 'lets just buy a 777 and round up a few people to visit a Pacific island...' No idea about running an actual operation. 

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