Analysis Changi Airport News Singapore Airlines Star Alliance

United ends Singapore – Los Angeles flight, doubles down on San Francisco

Does United's route shuffling on Los Angeles and San Francisco flights from October mean the end for the Singapore Airlines non-stop SFO route?

UA 787 In-Flight (United)

Star Alliance carrier United Airlines announced today that they would cease non-stop flights between Singapore and Los Angeles exactly one year after commencing the route, with the last service operating on 27th October 2018.

At the same time as part of the changes the airline will double their daily Boeing 787 Singapore – San Francisco operation, currently also served non-stop by Singapore Airlines using the Airbus A350.

Schedule changes

The existing Los Angeles flights currently operating on this route will cease with the last service departing LAX on 25th October 2018 and the final departure from Singapore on 27th October 2018.

Ends 25th / 27th October 2018
Flight From / To Aircraft Days
UA38 SIN1000 – LAX1045 789 Daily
UA37 LAX2320 – SIN0735** 789 Daily

** Two Days Later

A new evening service UA28 from Singapore to San Francisco will commence almost immediately, with a daytime option on the UA29 San Francisco to Singapore leg. These additional flights are highlighted in yellow.

Singapore to San Francisco

From 28th October 2018
Flight From / To Aircraft Days
UA2 SIN1000 – SFO0950 789 Daily
UA28 SIN2230 – SFO2205 789 Daily

Some minor timing adjustments take place for the northern winter 2018/19 season.

San Francisco to Singapore

From 27th October 2018
UA29 SFO1155 – SIN2015* 789 Daily
UA1 SFO2240 – SIN0650** 789 Daily

* Next Day, ** Two Days Later. Some minor timing adjustments take place for the northern winter 2018/19 season.

San Francisco (Umer Sayyam).jpg
The Singapore – San Francisco route probably can’t sustain three daily non-stop services. (Photo: Umer Sayyam)

What does this mean for Singapore Airlines?

Singapore Airlines currently operates daily non-stop flights using the Airbus A350 (non-ULR) between Singapore and San Francisco with a morning departure, plus an evening flight via Hong Kong on the 777-300ER. This latest announcement would mean four daily flights between the two cities, three of them non-stop.

The airline is also set to start 2-class non-stop flights to Newark with their upcoming Airbus A350ULR aircraft in a premium configuration featuring only Business and Premium Economy Class seats in October this year. Los Angeles flights with the same new aircraft type are set to be added towards the end of 2018 / early 2019.

New PE Single
Singapore Airlines is upgrading their Premium Economy seat for the Airbus A350ULR non-stop flights to the USA. Solo options including a large side storage compartment will be a new feature. (Photo: The Points Guy)

Given that SIA’s A350 flights to San Francisco use their regular aircraft configuration the flight can suffer load limits against strong headwinds on the westbound sectors from San Francisco to Singapore.

The very launch of the non-stop SIA flight in 2016 appeared to be a slightly knee-jerk reaction to United’s non-stop launch on the route, stretching an existing aircraft type somewhat beyond its normal capabilities while the A350ULR aircraft on order were still years from delivery.

These latest changes from United appear to call for some settling of the dust and we foresee the non-stop A350 SIA services from Singapore to San Francisco ending later this year in light of this news.

787-9 CAL #181 ZB167
It seems like United will probably take over non-stop Singapore to San Francisco flights later this year using their 787-9 aircraft. (Photo: United)

An announcement on that will possibly coincide with the Los Angeles A350ULR launch schedule, where we also understand SIA will reveal the cessation of flights between Los Angeles and Seoul from December, as we stated in our ULR Newark announcement article.

Summary

Shifting sands seem to be afoot on the Star Alliance Singapore – California network and we wouldn’t be surprised if United is making way for the new Singapore Airlines A350ULR non-stop flights to Los Angeles, which should be announced soon.

On the San Francisco side these changes will result in a significant capacity increase on the city pair and we think we will now see Singapore Airlines cease their A350 (non-ULR) operations on that route later this year.

(Cover Photo: United)

8 comments

  1. SQ used to operate SIN-ICN-SFO and return as SQ16/15. Could they relinquish the Seoul stop from the current SQ8/7 route between SIN and LAX and reintroduce SQ16/15 between SIN and SFO with a stop in Seoul?

    1. Hi Aaron.

      Yes they could do that. SQ are still selling F seats on the SIN-ICN-SIN SQ8/7 flights well into 2019 but have ceased all F sales on the ICN-LAX-ICN routing from 1 Dec 18 onwards.

      That would suggest the SIN-ICN portion will still be operated on the B77W (or A380, unlikely) which could continue to SFO or just solely serve ICN.

      Hopefully some more clarity will come once the LAX non-stop ULR announcement is made.

      1. FYI I’m booked on SQ8 and SQ7 in March/April next year and they have not notified me of any changes yet. I guess I’ll be hearing from them once news of the revised schedules is released.

      2. Yes assuming you’re not stopping over in ICN they will likely re-protect you via NRT or on the new ULR non-stop service.

        If you are stopping in ICN they will probably offer Asiana for the ICN-LAX-ICN sectors.

        Just a guess of course!

    1. My honest opinion is no, especially with their ‘frenemy’ United doing twice daily non-stop.

      While they could reinstate another SFO flight (via Seoul for example), we think the ULR will be used on longer routes it’s designed for. Our money’s on Toronto or Chicago.

      1. You were wrong! SQ doubled down on SFO too! And using the ULR! Interesting that there’s enough demand for 34 flights a week to the West Coast (17 each to LAX and SFO) but only 14 a week to JFK/EWR.

      2. Yes we were! Definitely surprising that UA and SQ think this route can sustain 24 non-stop flights a week. Seat capacity will be up over 64% on current levels!

        SQ Hong Kong – SFO continuing too, let’s see how long this all lasts!

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