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US major United Airlines is to use the operational efficiency of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner to further grow its long-haul network from its hub at San Francisco International Airport. The carrier will introduce new flights during the summer 2016 schedule to Auckland, New Zealand; Tel Aviv, Israel and Xi’an, China using the modern generation airliner.
United currently has 22 787s in its fleet and will receive three more before the end of this year. These include a mix of 787-8 and larger 787-9 variants which allow the carrier to fit the right-sized aircraft to its existing and new markets. The aircraft is being used at San Francisco International Airport to support the growth of United hub operation from where it provides nearly 280 daily flights to more than 90 destinations in North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia/Pacific.
The new San Francisco – Tel Aviv route will commence from March 30, 2016 and was helped brought to fruition by a recent customer petition with the carrier confirming it “considered the opinions of thousands of customers who petitioned for the service” in its planning of the new route. The flight will be operated on a three times weekly basis using a 787-9 and will add to the carrier’s existing link to Tel Aviv from its Newark Liberty International Airport hub.
Providing corporate customers from throughout the Bay Area and Silicon Valley nonstop service to the high-tech market in Israel has been high on our priority list at United. Now with the 787-9 Dreamliner, we're delighted to make it a reality," said Dave Hilfman, Senior Vice President of Worldwide Sales, United Airlines, highlighting the role the airliner played in bringing this new city pair to market.
The new San Francisco – Xi’an route will operate on a three times weekly basis from May 8, 2016 and will be the first non-stop transpacific service to the secondary Chinese city, the capital of Shaanxi province and popular gateway for visitors to the Mausoleum of Qin Shi Huang and the Terracotta Army. This market will be served using a 787-8 through to October 27, 2016.
United said the route has only been made possible thanks to the “forward-thinking negotiations” between the US Department of Transportation, the US Department of State and the Civil Aviation Administration of China to open non-stop flights from the United States to interior points in China.
The new San Francisco – Auckland route will commence from July 1, 2016 and marks the return of the US major to the New Zealand market after more than a 13 year hiatus having last served the market in March 2003. Its return will come through a new business partnership with Air New Zealand and will, subject to government approval, see an initial three times weekly 787-8 operation, growing to a daily schedule from October 28, 2016 ahead of the peak-winter travel season.
OAG Schedules Analyser data shows year-on-year growth in operations by United Airlines at San Francisco International Airport over the past six years after declines in 2008 and 2009. Since 2009 the airline has grown capacity by an average annual rate of 5.9 per cent from 9.76 million seats in 2009 to 12.65 million last year: growth is forecasted for 2015 based on published schedules to 12.71 million, a five per cent year-on-year rise.
During this growth period United and its regional partners have increased the destinations served from San Francisco from 74 in 2009 to over 100 last year and again in 2015. This growth has been in both the domestic and international markets with domestic capacity rising 32.9 per cent between 2009 and 2014 and international capacity by 15.4 over the same period. The airline’s 2015 schedules show a further year-on-year capacity growth of 0.2 per cent in the domestic market and 2.0 per cent in the international market versus 2014.
Growth in 787 operations from San Francisco
United first introduced the 787 onto its schedules at San Francisco in November 2012 when it debuted the 787-8 on domestic flights to its Houston hub and it continued to utilise the aircraft on this route through to January 2013. After a short break, scheduled 787-8 flights returned to San Francisco in February 2014 with the return of the domestic Houston operation and the launch of its first Dreamliner international flight from the city to Osaka and from June 2014 for a new Chengdu link.
After being used on single rotations to Chengdu, Houston and Los Angeles in October and November 2014, the 787-9 will be introduced in San Francisco for summer 2016 and alongside the new Tel Aviv route will serve Sydney and Taipei. It will also be introduced on flights to Seoul, Shanghai and Tokyo Haneda later in the summer schedules.
United configures its 787-8s in a three-class 219-seat arrangement with 36 BusinessFirst, 70 Economy Plus and 113 Economy seats, while its larger 787-9s have an additional 32 seats and are configured with 48 BusinessFirst, 88 Economy Plus and 116 Economy seats in a 252 passenger layout.
New Seasonal European links from Newark and Washington
United’s long-haul expansion for summer 2016 is not just limited to San Francisco and in the past week the carrier has outlined new seasonal routes into Europe from its bases at Newark Liberty and Washington Dulles. The daily flights from Newark to Athens, Greece and Washington to Barcelona, Spain and Lisbon, Portugal will operate from May 25, 2016 through to September 6, 2015, with the Athens connection continuing a month longer through to October 5, 2016.
"United continues to add routes where our customers want to travel, when they want to travel," said Brian Znotins, Vice President of Network. "These new flights during Europe's peak-summer travel season will provide additional access to Athens, Barcelona and Lisbon from hundreds of points we serve throughout North America, Latin America and the Caribbean."
The new seasonal links have been made possible by the redeployment of assets as new aircraft – like the 787 – are introduced into its network freeing capacity in the process. The Newark – Athens route, to be served with a 767-300, was previously flown by Continental Airlines before its merger with United and the Greek capital is currently served from New York JFK by Delta Air Lines.
The two new routes from Washington will see the first links from the US Capital to both Barcelona and Lisbon. According to MIDT data there is an existing demand of 30,000 and 11,000 annual passengers in these city pair markets, respectively. United will use a 757-200 on the Lisbon route and a 767-400 to Barcelona.
United has served the Spanish market for more than 20 years and this new complements the airline's existing year-round flights to both Barcelona and Madrid from Newark. The introduction of a second route to Lisbon, adding to its Newark offering, comes as United celebrates 19 years of service to the Portuguese capital.