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New Route of the Day – Americas (8 December 2023): United between San Francisco and Christchurch


United launched its latest South Pacific service on Friday 8 December between San Francisco and Christchurch in New Zealand. The 11,125-kilometre seasonal route will be maintained 3-weekly, departing San Francisco on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Sundays, with the 787 aircraft. The Star Alliance member faces no competition between the two cities.

Flight UA730 departs San Francisco at 23:30 local time, arriving in Christchurch at 10:35 local time two days later. The return service, operating as flight UA731, takes off from New Zealand’s second largest city at 14:15 local time on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays, arriving back in the US at 06:20 local time on the same day.

What they said

Patrick Quayle, Senior Vice President of Global Network Planning and Alliances, said: “This is a route I’ve personally wanted to add to United’s network for a long time – I had the opportunity to backpack in New Zealand earlier in my life and it’s such a special destination that offers travellers an experience unlike anywhere else in the world. And because of United’s partnership with Air New Zealand, customers can easily connect from Christchurch to 19 other destinations across New Zealand.”

Justin Watson, Chief Executive of Christchurch Airport, added: “The American travel market is buoyant, with Americans travelling widely again and we know they want to experience what the South Island offers. In addition, the service brings much-needed air freight capacity for South Island producers and enables South Islanders direct access to the US and beyond.”

United becomes first US carrier to fly to Christchurch

No US carrier has flown nonstop to Christchurch before, while San Francisco becomes the New Zealand’s airport only destination in the US. Air New Zealand was the last airline to link Christchurch to the US, with services to Los Angeles ending in 2002.

Shannon AIrport

Christchurch Airport has said that based on government data, the seasonal service is forecast to bring in $44 million in visitor spending for New Zealand, with $32 million of that in South Island regions.

The United flights are part of a big push by US airlines into New Zealand over the summer, with Delta entering the market into Auckland for the first time and American returning with an expanded service.

United boosts South Pacific operations by close to 50%

By the end of 2023, United will operate 66 flights between the US and the South Pacific region each week.

With nearly 50% growth year-on-year, the airline says it is the largest expansion to the region in US aviation history. If only Australia and New Zealand are considered, the number of flights increase 44% during W23/24.

Christchurch is the largest city in the South Island of New Zealand. In 1940, after several years of planning, Harewood Airport opened for flying. This was developed over a number of years to become Christchurch International Airport and in 1950 it became New Zealand’s first international airport.

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