Featured Map for 18 December 2023:
United Shifts from China to the South Pacific


A friend recently observed how much United Airlines has expanded to the South Pacific (mostly Australia and New Zealand). An obvious question for some of us is how United funded that expansion. Fleet growth, at least in the long-haul aircraft that fly these routes, hasn't been enough. A huge pullback of flights to China accounts for a lion's share of the equipment.

A Featured Map from April 2017 offers a good baseline. At that time, United served six destinations in China from five North American hubs (and from Guam). Today, four of United's five flights to China from North America are from San Francisco, with twice-daily flights to Hong Kong plus one each to Beijing and to Shanhai. United's Boeing 747-400s are gone as of late 2017 but three of today's trips use the Boeing 777-300ER, now United's largest aircraft for overseas flights. The morning trip to Hong Kong uses a Boeing 777-200ER and a daily trip from Los Angeles to Hong Kong uses a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.

A few months later, in mid-2017, United had just three daily trips to the South Pacifc, all in the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner: Los Angeles to both Sydney and Melbourne plus San Francisco to Sydney.

SFO-SYD is now double-daily, with flights using the Boeing 777-300ER, and SFO-MEL was upgauged to the 777-300ER effective 28 October 2023. LAX-SYD/MEL continue with the 787-9, as do many new routes including San Francisco to Auckland, Brisbane, and Papeete (Tahiti) (daily) and Los Angeles to Auckland and Brisbane (4x and 3x weekly, respecively). Houston to Sydney commenced 18 January 2018, also with the 787-9.

Most recently, United added a 3x weekly trip from San Francisco to Christchurch using a Boeing 787-8 (the inaugural trip used a 787-9 to provide more premium seats), the first service between New Zealand's south island and the continental United States since Air New Zealand exited 17 years ago.

Today's Featured Map shows United's 2017 flying from North America to China in grey, overlaid with current China routes in red. Current South Pacific routes are illustrated in Pacific Blue. (With so many moving pieces, there's a chance that something might have been missed, but hopefully it doesn't detract from the overall tapestry.)

References and additional information:



Copyright © 2010-2024 Karl L. Swartz. All rights reserved.
The Great Circle Mapper name and logo are trademarks of the Great Circle Mapper.
All other trademarks mentioned herein belong to their respective owners.
Please see credits for attributions and further copyright information.

  Follow gcmap on Facebook Follow gcmap on Twitter GCmap on LinkedIn