Sixty New Routes Starting in December 2023


The third of three new South Pacific services being launched by United Airlines commences in December 2023 as the carrier begins flights between San Francisco and Christchurch, New Zealand.

The route will be operated three times a week using Boeing 787-8 aircraft from Dec. 8, becoming the only airline to directly connect the U.S. and New Zealand's South Island. The launch follows the opening of routes from Los Angeles to Auckland and Brisbane, Australia, in October and November, respectively.

Data provided by the U.S. Transportation Department shows that United’s San Francisco-Christchurch service will become the first nonstop route between the cities. American Airlines had planned to begin seasonal flights to Christchurch from Los Angeles in October 2020, but operations failed to start because of the pandemic.

According to figures provided by Sabre Market Intelligence, O&D traffic between Christchurch and the U.S. totaled 84,500 two-way passengers in 2019, all of whom traveled indirectly. Christchurch-Los Angeles was the top city pair, followed by Christchurch-San Francisco.

Elsewhere, in December 2023 China also is entering a new market with a connection between mainland China and Egypt, marking the SkyTeam Alliance member’s return to the African continent after an absence of more than 15 years.

The Shanghai-headquartered carrier previously offered passenger flights to South Africa from April 2007, operating a route from Shanghai Pudong International Airport to Johannesburg’s O.R. Tambo International Airport via Male, the capital of the Maldives. However, the service was suspended one year later, ending the airline’s foray into the African market.

China Eastern will make a return to the region from Dec. 11 when it commences flights between Shanghai and the Egyptian capital Cairo. Three roundtrips per week will be available.

Other eye-catching routes starting in December 2023 include Vietnam Airlines with a new route between Ho Chi Minh City and Perth in Western Australia, coming just weeks after Vietnamese counterpart VietJet entered the market. Vietnam Airlines will offer three roundtrips per week from Dec. 7.

Batik Air Malaysia is also inaugurating a new international service this month, linking Kuala Lumpur and Tashkent, Uzbekistan. The move comes after the carrier secured approval to operate the route in August from the Malaysian Aviation Commission. Frequencies will be once a week from Dec. 15 aboard Airbus A330 aircraft.

Elsewhere, Turkish Airlines resumes Istanbul-Osaka Kansai in Japan from Dec. 12 after a near seven-year hiatus, operating 4X-weekly using 787-9s, while Spain’s Iberia will launch service to Doha’s Hamad International Airport in Qatar on Dec. 11 and become part of the British Airways-Qatar Airways joint venture. December also sees Latvia’s AirBaltic opening a seasonal base in Gran Canaria, Spain, serving a total 10 routes, and domestic operations begin from Mexico’s new Tulum International Airport.

David Casey

David Casey is Editor in Chief of Routes, the global route development community's trusted source for news and information.