United Airlines is confident that the economics of the Boeing 787-9 aircraft will make its upcoming Los Angeles-Singapore service work.
"Los Angeles has been on the horizon for a while, and we feel the 787-9 is the right aircraft, with the right fuel consumption," says Alison Espley, managing director for Japan and Pacific sales at United Airlines. "The aircraft is what makes it possible."
When asked about payload restrictions given the long distance of the service, Espley said that it may be necessary to "hold some seats" on Singapore-bound services during the northern winter months. She adds, however, that the carrier's San Francisco-Singapore service, which also uses 787-9s, is "performing well."
She adds that United expects strong local demand in Singapore for the LA flight, which is timed to provide connections to over 20 US cities.
United will launch the LA-Singapore service on 29 October. The Singapore-LA leg, UA37, will be roughly 15 hours, 15 minutes. The LA-Singapore leg, UA38, will be 17 hours, 55 minutes.
The 8,700 mile flight, claims United, will the longest flight to or from the United States. The aircraft will carry 252 passengers: 48 in business, 88 in economy plus, and 116 in economy class.
The Singapore-LA flight is the first non-stop service between the two cities since Singapore Airlines dropped its direct LA and New York services in late-2013. SIA had operated Airbus A340-500 aircraft configured with just 100 business class seats on both routes, but struggled amid high fuel prices and a weak economic climate.
SIA plans to resume direct services to New York and LA when it starts receiving seven A350-900ULR aircraft. This aircraft will offer a superior range to the A350-900 it currently uses on its direct San Francisco service.