MIAMI — United Airlines announced a major international expansion at its San Francisco hub on Wednesday. Speaking to reporters on a conference call, United CEO Oscar Munoz announced three new international routes and expanded service to several additional markets.
The two headlining routes unveiled were San Francisco to Melbourne, Australia (3 weekly) and New Delhi, India (daily) with the 787-9 Dreamliner.
In addition, United announced twice-daily service from San Francisco to Toronto, Canada on the 737-800.
United also unveiled plans to add an additional four weekly flights from SFO to Seoul Incheon to be operated by the 777-200ER.
The new and expanded routes compliment several previously announced route expansions out of SFO including new nonstop flights to Amsterdam and expanded year-round service to Auckland, New Zealand, and Pape’ete, French Polynesia.
“This route expansion solidifies United’s position at San Francisco as the gateway airline serving destinations across the Pacific, the continental United States, as well as to Europe and beyond,” said Oscar Munoz, United’s CEO.
“It serves as a fitting capstone to all our efforts that made 2018 a breakthrough year for United, from delivering strong financial performance to currently leading in on-time departures for the second year in a row.”
“San Francisco continues to be a cultural and economic hub for the world,” said U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein. “These new routes will expand international travel to and from San Francisco International Airport, helping us forge stronger connections between our city and other major destinations around the globe.”
United is continuing to use the impressive range and fuel economy of the Boeing 787 to open new international routes. The carrier, which already operates 12 787-8 and 25 787-9 aircraft, recently took delivery of their first two 787-10s.
The -10, which will be based out of Newark, is the only 787 sub-fleet to feature United’s latest Polaris business class hard-product. The 787-9, which will operate most of the new long-haul routes out of San Francisco, features United’s older business class seat in a tight 2-2-2 configuration.
Notably absent from today’s announcement were international additions at United’s Chicago O’Hare hub. While CEO Oscar Munoz highlighted Chicago’s upcoming terminal renovations and expansion to Terminal Five, the carrier did not announce new international routes out of Chicago for now. Munoz did, however, hint that United’s next route announcement call may include Chicago.
SFO continues to benefit from United’s strong push into international markets. In October, United added a second daily frequency between San Francisco and Singapore while simultaneously cutting service between LAX and Singapore.
In addition to SFO, United’s hubs in Denver, Newark, and Washington have also been on the receiving end of the airline’s international expansion.
In Denver, United recently added its first two European routes to London-Heathrow and Frankfurt. In Newark, United will soon begin seasonal service to Naples and Prague. In Washington, a new Tel Aviv route has been announced.
The SFO route announcement comes just two days after United reached an agreement with the Washington Metropolitan Airport Authority to construct a United Polaris Lounge at Washington-Dulles Airport. The decision further solidified United’s to grow its Dulles hub.
Washington-Dulles will join the likes of Chicago O’Hare, San Francisco, Newark, Houston, and Los Angeles (opening January 2019) with United’s signature lounge.
United also has plans to open Polaris lounges in several key international markets including London-Heathrow, Hong Kong, and Tokyo-Narita.