CHANGI Airport Group (CAG) has welcomed United Airlines' (UA) plan to launch non-stop services between Singapore and San Francisco from June this year, which will make it the only carrier to currently serve the US directly from here.
Singapore Airlines (SIA), which is the launch customer for the new A350-Ultra Long Range aircraft, will restart direct flights to New York and Los Angeles only from 2018 using the fuel-efficient aircraft. SIA pulled the plug on its direct services in 2013, due to high oil prices and softer demand for its all-Business Class product.
The inaugural SFO-SIN flight will take off on June 1, with the return flight departing from Changi Airport on June 3.
UA will operate a 252-seat Boeing 787-900 Dreamliner aircraft in a two-class configuration.
The total flight times of 16 hours and 20 minutes westbound, and 15 hours and 30 minutes eastbound, cut travel time by up to four hours each way. UA currently operates a one-stop service via Narita Airport in Tokyo.
With the new United service, Singapore will be linked to the United States, with 54 weekly services connecting to six American cities.
Point-to-point traffic between the United States and South-east Asia has also grown steadily over the past three years, said airport operator CAG. Over 4.9 million passengers travelled between these two regions in the year ended November 2015, up 29 per cent from the corresponding period three years ago.
With the launch of non-stop flights, UA will cease its service between Singapore and Tokyo from June 2. The airline will continue to operate its daily service between Singapore and Chicago, via Hong Kong.
Lim Ching Kiat, CAG's senior vice-president (market development), said: "Singapore and the US enjoy strong trade flows and business ties, with many US MNCs basing their Asian or regional headquarters in Singapore. It will bring greater convenience especially to business travellers, who can use United's hub in San Francisco to connect to 26 major US cities, such as Seattle, Las Vegas and Denver. The new service would also potentially bring more US tourists to Singapore."
According to UA, the Singapore-San Francisco service will be the longest scheduled 787 flight operated by any airline at 13,593 kilometres.
Flight UA2 will depart Changi Airport at 8.45am daily, arriving at San Francisco International Airport at 9.15am the same day. The return flight, UA1, will depart San Francisco at 11.25pm daily, arriving in Singapore at 6.45am two days later (local time).
United has timed the new flights so passengers can connect at San Francisco for onward services throughout the US, Canada and Latin America. With this new service, United will provide a one-stop service between Singapore and more than 40 US cities, including over 25 cities that do not have one-stop service from Singapore currently.