Skip to main content

IT’S BEING called the largest South Pacific expansion in aviation history – and Australia is a big part of it.

United Airlines is planning to add 40 per cent more flights between the U.S. and Australasia, including new routes from L.A. to Brisbane and more flights from San Francisco to Brisbane and Sydney.

The airline already flies to more destinations in Australasia than all other U.S. carriers combined and now will have more flights and serve more destinations in the region from the U.S. than any other carrier in the world.

“This past winter, United enhanced our network and became the largest carrier to the South Pacific region. Now, this upcoming winter, we will expand even further,” said Patrick Quayle, Senior Vice President of Global Network Planning and Alliances.

“Our strong partnerships with Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia provide unparalleled connectivity, and with our historic expansion across five destinations in New Zealand and Australia, United is the clear choice for customers’ travel to the region.”

Last year United became the only airline to offer direct flights between Brisbane and San Francisco. On November 29, the airline will add to this service by adding three weekly Los Angeles-Brisbane flights on a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner – becoming the largest carrier between the U.S. and Brisbane.

From October 28, United will offer daily flights between San Francisco and Brisbane on a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. On the same day the carrier will also begin flying twice daily between San Francisco and Sydney on Boeing 777-300ERs.

Also on October 28, United will deploy its largest airplane on flights between San Francisco-Melbourne. The 777-300ER will add nearly 100 daily seats to each departure.


STRONG DEMAND has led Air Canada to expand its Australian schedule with additional services from two major gateways.

The airline will deploy larger aircraft and increase services to Brisbane during its 2023-24 northern winter schedule.

From November, flights from Brisbane will be operated by a 400-seat 777-300ER instead of the 298-seat 787-9 Dreamliner, with five-times weekly services increasing to daily from December to March, resulting in a 34 per cent boost to capacity on the route.

“Travellers immediately embraced our services when we returned to the market following the pandemic,” said Vic Naughton, Air Canada General Manager Australia and New Zealand.

“That enthusiasm has not waned and we expect demand for seats to only intensify as we move into the winter season.”

Sydney will also receive a boost, with flights increasing from daily to 10 weekly services over December and January 2024.

“There is no doubt that YVR (Vancouver) is now firmly established among Australian travellers as the friendliest and most efficient gateway to North America.

“That is hardly surprising given Air Canada passengers proceed to their connecting flights without needing to re-check their bags or change terminals, while U.S.-bound customers pass through U.S. Customs and Immigration at YVR, enabling a quick exit once they touch down in the U.S.”


BUSY TIMES for the Flying Kangaroo with the launch of a major new route and exciting news coming out of the Mojave Desert.

Qantas has begun direct flights from Melbourne to Jakarta, offering a three-times-a-week service on its Airbus A330. The new service adds to the airline’s existing flights to Jakarta from Sydney.

This is the fourth international route to be added to the Qantas map out of Melbourne since borders reopened and follows the launch of flights to Delhi, Dallas Fort Worth and Tokyo (Haneda). 

“We continue to see really strong demand for travel to and from Melbourne, so we’re pleased to be expanding our international network with another new route out of Victoria,” said Andrew David, Qantas Domestic and International CEO.

“Jakarta is becoming an increasingly important destination for our corporate travellers. These direct flights offer more choice and make it even easier for them to do business with one of Australia’s closest neighbours.”

Meanwhile on the other side of the world the last of Qantas’ mothballed 10-strong A380 fleet left Victorville in the Mojave Desert in California after almost 1,000 days in storage due to the pandemic.

It’s expected the entire A380 fleet will be back in service by the middle of next year.


FIJI AIRWAYS is set to launch its first direct flight route between Canberra and Nadi.

The new route will operate twice a week on Tuesdays and Fridays from July 21 to the end of September, and three times a week from October onwards.

“The new direct route between Canberra and Nadi marks another significant milestone for Fiji Airways as we continue to expand our network and provide greater connectivity for our customers,” said André Viljoen, Fiji Airways CEO.

“We are thrilled to bring our world-class service to Canberra and connect Australia’s capital directly with our beautiful home, Fiji.

“We look forward to welcoming our customers on board and sharing the world-renowned Fijian hospitality that sets us apart.”

Guests can book return tickets for $499 with all economy fares including meals, beverages, inflight entertainment, 30kg of checked baggage and carry-on baggage up to seven kilograms.


TRAVEL AGENTS will be among those celebrating the arrival of low-cost airline VietJet into Australia.

The Vietnamese carrier declared its intentions to grow rapidly Down Under after touching down for the first time in both Melbourne and Sydney.

The airline will fly three times weekly from both Aussie cities direct to Ho Chi Minh using Airbus A330 aircraft. Each flight features 365 seats in economy class and 12 SkyBoss business class lie-flat reclining seats.

The travel industry will play a key part in its growth in Australia with agents able to earn five per cent commission on all fare levels: economy, deluxe and SkyBoss.

VietJet will become the sole airline flying between Brisbane and Vietnam when it begins service to the Queensland capital from June 16. The airline also has designs on Adelaide, Perth and Darwin but has yet to formally commit to these cities.

The airline says it plans to launch marketing campaigns on both traditional and digital media initially in the three cities it serves before beginning to grow its name in other areas.

Vietnam is booming in popularity as a rapidly emerging leisure destination, with 317,000 Australians exploring the Land of the Blue Dragon.


EMIRATES HAS introduced its popular premium economy cabin on another Australian route.

The carrier’s fourth cabin class has been popular on flights from Sydney and now Victorians have access to the new seats, with the service operating on daily flights between Melbourne and Dubai.

Melbourne is the fifth city on Emirates’ network to feature the seat class alongside Sydney, London, Auckland and Christchurch.

The cabin features cream leather seats and a wood veneer, a generous baggage allowance and an enhanced dining experience, staffed by a team of crew dedicated to premium economy passengers.

The introduction is part of the airline’s multi-million dollar retrofit program, where 126 aircraft will be fitted out with premium economy cabins.

By 2025, nearly 4,000 new premium economy seats will be installed, 728 first class suites refurbished and more than 5,000 business class seats upgraded to a new style and design.

“This is an exciting period for Emirates in Australia, with Melbourne and Sydney sitting at the forefront of Emirates biggest investment in cabin redesign to date,” said Barry Brown, Divisional Vice President Australasia at Emirates.

“We have a strong commitment to Australia, as one of our most important markets on our global network.”

On an A380 flying from Melbourne or Sydney, the premium economy cabin is located at the front of the main deck with 56 seats laid out in a 2-4-2 configuration.