United Airlines launches direct flights from San Francisco to Christchurch, NZ

United Airlines

United Airlines made history when it kicked off its service between San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and Christchurch Airport (CHC) on December 10, 2023, creating the only direct connection between the United States and the South Island of New Zealand.

The inaugural flight, UA 730, was operated with a Boeing 787-9 (registration N28987), and departed SFO airport just after 23:30 local time. It arrived at CHC airport at around 10:30 local time after a flight time of roughly 13 hours.

United Airlines

Moving forward, the airline will use a 787-8 on the thrice-weekly, seasonal route until March 27, 2024 (outbound) and March 29, 2024 (return).

“New Zealand will always be a bucket-list destination for our U.S. travelers, and this flight offers direct access to the natural wonders of the South Island,” Tim Walls, United Airlines Regional Sales Manager for Australia, New Zealand and Tahiti said in a press statement.

Christchurch Airport CEO Justin Watson noted that the SFO-CHC service extends beyond tourism, becoming a catalyst for economic growth and global trade.

“United’s flights will provide much needed additional airfreight capacity for South Island exporters to get their precious cargo out quickly and onto the shelves in offshore markets,” Watson said.

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