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United cuts 2 Australia, New Zealand routes, tapping brakes on rapid Pacific growth

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United Airlines is pulling back slightly on what’s been an ambitious expansion across the Pacific Ocean.

The Chicago-based carrier plans to suspend its nonstop, seasonal service from Los Angeles to two destinations in Australia and New Zealand during the Northern Hemisphere’s winter, a spokesperson told TPG Thursday.

As part of the network adjustment, United will end its seasonal service to both Brisbane, Australia, and Auckland, New Zealand. Both routes launched this past year, which means the service will not be back for a second season.

Ishrion Aviation was the first to spot United’s Pacific shake-up.

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Slowing its fast Pacific buildup

United’s Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) service to Brisbane Airport (BNE) and Auckland Airport (AKL) was part of what’s been a dramatic scaling up of the airline’s transpacific footprint over the last year.

Brisbane skyline at dusk with skyscrapers lighting up
Brisbane, Australia. F11PHOTO/GETTY IMAGES

In the first quarter of 2024, United’s transpacific capacity was up around 66% year over year, company leaders noted last month.

However, during the company’s most recent earnings call in April, United executives did signal some growing pains in its growing long-haul Pacific network.

The company predicted its revenue per available seat mile (a key financial indicator for airlines) would be down versus last year in the region.

“We do plan to make capacity adjustments to a small number of underperforming routes,” chief commercial officer Andrew Nocella told analysts at the time.

“United regularly adjusts its schedule for a variety of reasons, including demand and the broader needs of our network,” an airline spokesperson said in a statement regarding this network adjustment.

Increased capacity from SFO

It’s not all bad news for United loyalists hoping to fly with the carrier to destinations across the South Pacific — whether for business or a solid MileagePlus redemption.

As part of the adjustment, the airline will double down on Pacific service from its San Francisco International Airport (SFO) hub.

United now plans to “upgauge” its San Francisco-to-Brisbane route in an effort to accommodate more passengers. The airline previously operated the route with a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.

United’s booking channels now show a Boeing 777-300ER operating the route this winter. The aircraft has 350 seats to the 787-9’s 257 — including 60 Polaris business-class seats, 24 Premium Plus recliners and 266 seats in the main cabin.

Meanwhile, United plans to increase its frequencies on the San Francisco-to-Auckland route, shifting from three weekly round trips to daily service during the Northern Hemisphere’s winter season — specifically, between Oct. 27, 2024, and March 27, 2025.

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