United Airlines has announced plans to offer daily non-stop service from San Francisco to Singapore beginning 01 June 2016 on its 787-9 aircraft. The new route will be one of the world’s longest at 8,446 miles (second only to Dallas to Sydney on Qantas…for now). Further paring back its Tokyo Narita hub, United’s Tokyo to Singapore route will be eliminated.
Beating Singapore Airlines to the punch, United is assigning its flagship flight numbers, UA1 and UA2 to the flights. Not coincidentally, Singapore also uses those flights numbers on its San Francisco to Singapore route, which makes a ground stop in Hong Kong in both directions of travel.
The flights are timed for quick turns, with a late evening departure from San Francisco and a return flight that leaves Singapore in the morning and arrives into San Francisco just 30 minutes later (of course crossing the international date line helps…).
UA1 San Francisco to Singapore dep 11:25PM arr 6:45AM+2
UA2 Singapore to San Francisco dep 8:45AM arr 9:15AM
Will Singapore Compete with United?
Singapore served Newark and Los Angeles non-stop on its gas-guzzling A345s through late 2013 but abandoned the routes. Recently, though, we have heard rumors about Singapore restarting non-stop service to the USA. United’s act may be an attempt to stall SQ’s expansion plans.
Singapore and United don’t exactly get along (and to be fair, SQ squabbles with all its alliance partners like a spoiled child). United has discouraged its MileagePlus members from redeeming on Singapore Airlines by removing Singapore space online and Singapore arbitrarily turns away United flyers from its San Francisco and Sydney Star Gold Lounges in clear violation of its alliance agreement with United. Then there is the matter of Singapore Airlines seeking codeshare partnerships with JetBlue and Virgin America in United’s own backyard.
The bottom line is that United and Singapore are not exactly best friends and while I don’t expect Singapore to start non-stop service from San Francisco, I think they will “retaliate” though some healthy competition.
The Beauty of the 787-9
I love the 787-9 aircraft, the ratio of business/economy on United, and the fact that it has opened up new gateways that were otherwise unattainable. Singapore is one of those markets and I predict the deployment of a 787-9 will work nicely for United.
United Slowly Dismantles Tokyo Narita Hub
Tokyo Narita will still enjoy United hub status, but it will lose its only remaining destination in SE Asia, having lost Bangkok last year.
From Tokyo Narita United will still service:
- Los Angeles
- San Francisco
This is a great new United route and a picture of United’s growing international presence at SFO.