United Airlines announced it will operate its longest non-stop flights from its hub at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) to Singapore’s Changi Airport (SIN).
The Chicago based airline will begin daily commercial operations on June 1, 2016 with a Boeing 787-9 aircraft.
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It is configured with 252 seats including 48 in United BusinessFirst and 204 in United Economy. The BusinessFirst seats are the same ones used for United Airlines’ upgraded transcontinental US service. There will also be 88 Economy Plus seats with up to five inches of pitch in the Economy cabin.
The airline provides connectivity through in flight WIFI (time based), individual USB port and AC power port (individual for BusinessFirst passengers, shared in Economy cabin).
Flight UA1 will depart San Francisco at 11:25 p.m. daily and arrives in Singapore at 6:45 a.m. two days later (all times local). The return flight, UA2, will depart Singapore’s Changi Airport at 8:45 a.m. daily, arriving at San Francisco International Airport at 9:15 a.m. the same day. Flying times will be approximately 15 hours, 30 minutes eastbound and 16 hours, 20 minutes westbound.
Outbound flight later on the day will allow the airline to pick up passengers from connecting flights. Its early morning arrival time will be perfect for Southeast Asia and Indian connections.
The aircraft will have a two hour quick turnaround and leave Singapore mid morning. The flight arrives in San Francisco with maximum connection opportunities in the US, Canada, Mexico and South America.
Experience The Skies posted an insight on the use of Tokyo Narita Airport as a hub for United Airlines and Delta Air Lines back in October 2014 (Insight – October 28, 2014). We predicted at the time that the Boeing 787-9 operator should consider operating its Singapore flight as a non-stop from the US .
The airline announced it will eliminate the Tokyo option to Singapore once the non-stop commences. Travel time is reduced by more than 3-4 hours with the non-stop option.
After June 1, United Airlines will only have fifth freedom flights from Tokyo Narita Airport (NRT) to Seoul’s Incheon International Airport (ICN) and Guam’s Antonio B. Won Pat International Airport (GUM). ICN is being served currently with a Boeing 737 in addition to non-stop flights from SFO and Los Angeles (LAX) .
It will likely be the next destination for service elimination from Tokyo. The Boeing 787-9 can be used to start flights from United’s hubs at Chicago O’Hare (ORD), Newark (EWR) and Washington Dulles (IAD). The best candidate of the bunch is EWR where there is no non-stop flight to ICN.
It was not surprising United Airlines is on the path to reduce its operations in Tokyo. The airport has high operating costs and increases travel time by 15-20% from mainland US. The Pacific operation was picked up from Pan American World Airways back in the 1980s. The connection was needed at the time when aircrafts did not have the technological edge to fly longer distances.
Future Long Haul Operations
The airline will have 90 Boeing 787s, 10 Boeing 777-300ERs (Insight on this aircraft type – July 9, 2015) and 75 Airbus A350-1000 in its fleet within the next ten years. The latter is the first long haul order United Airlines made with Airbus. This fleet will be used to replace aging Boeing 747s, 767s, and 777s .
The 787s will continue to be used for thinner routes to secondary cities in Asia, Australia/South Pacific and South America.
For Asia, non-stop flights can be added from its US hubs to cities in China (Tianjin, Nanjing, Wuhan), India (Mumbai, Hyderabad) and Southeast Asia (Bangkok, Ho Chi Man City, Mumbai, Manila) .
For Australia/South Pacific, the airline can explore flights to Wellington, Brisbane, and Adelaide.
For South America, United Airlines can work more closely with Azul Brazilian Airlines to feed passengers to the US.