United Trimming 787 Service to Sydney From Houston and LAX
United has confirmed that it will be reducing service from two major hubs to Sydney (SYD), impacting flights from both Houston (IAH) and Los Angeles (LAX) during the slower winter months in Australia. While the airline trimmed 787-9 Dreamliner service last summer as well, there are even more reductions for 2019.
The airline will remove a total of one US round-trip each day from March 29 through October 25. Even with the change, United will fly two daily round-trips between the US and Sydney. Houston will still have four weekly flights to Sydney, on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, while Los Angeles will have nonstop service reduced to Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
United released a statement explaining the change:
"As we continuously monitor the demand for travel in all of the markets we serve, we have identified periods of lower demand for travel between Sydney and our hubs in Houston and Los Angeles during the northern summer season."
United will continue flying daily from San Francisco (SFO) year-round, and expects to return to daily service from Houston and LAX after October 25. The airline will also launch year-round flights from SFO to Melbourne (MEL), operating with the following schedule beginning October 29, 2019:
- UA60 San Francisco (SFO) 10:50pm Departure ⇒ Melbourne (MEL) 9:40am (+2) Arrival — Tuesdays/Thursdays/Saturdays
- UA61 Melbourne (MEL) 11:40am Departure ⇒ San Francisco (SFO) 6:50am Arrival — Mondays/Thursdays/Saturdays
"This change will maintain two SYD roundtrips at all times, and will go into effect starting March 29 through October 25, when we intend to resume daily service from Houston and Los Angeles."
Of course, this reduction in service will also free up two 787-9s, given the travel time between Australia and the United States. As the airline explained, they'll be used to operate other flights, instead:
"These seasonal adjustments will not impact pilot staffing. From IAH, we will operate the Dreamliner on one of our daily LHR flights, while in LAX we will introduce an additional LAX-IAH flight with the 787. Also, flight attendant staffing will also remain unchanged, as we will backfill with domestic flying at both hubs."
Naturally, fewer seats flying from the US to Australia will mean tighter competition for award seats. Passengers already booked on the canceled Houston and Los Angeles flights will likely receive an email or call from United with an option to rebook travel free of charge.