HOUSTON — It was a good day — or, would that be “g’day” — Jan. 18, 2018, when United Airlines’ inaugural flight from Houston to Sydney, Australia took off from George Bush Intercontinental Airport.
Dignitaries from United Airlines, the Australian government, the City of Houston and the Houston Airport System were on-hand for the celebration of the longest non-stop flight in Bush Airport history. The daily flight will cover nearly 8,600 miles and take 17-and-a-half hours, departing Bush Airport at 8 p.m. and arriving at 6:30 a.m. (local time) at Sydney Airport.
Among the guests were Australian Ambassador to the United States, the honorable Joe Hockey, who pointed out the broad appeal for tourist travel to his home country, and Jerry Davis, the Vice Mayor Pro Tem for the City of Houston, as well as Houston Aviation Director Mario Diaz, who pointed out that the new flight is part of the city and airport’s efforts to connect Houston to markets throughout the world.
“This inaugural flight from Sydney to Houston is yet another example of how our great city touches all four corners of the globe, and reinforces the fact that George Bush Intercontinental is the only U.S. airport with non-stop flights to every inhabited continent on the planet,” Diaz said. “As we move forward, it is opportunities such as this — the chance to connect Houston with the people, business, culture and economy of Australia — that drive us and fuel our plans to expand both the destinations available and the investment in world-class facilities that will provide five-star service to our customers.”
Diaz pointed out that Houston and Sydney already enjoy a strong business and tourism connection — with nearly 591 tons of export cargo passing through Bush Airport in 2016 alone and a tourism-driven $38.1 million economic impact from 31,000 Australian visitors to Houston in 2016, as well.
“United Airlines is a valued partner, sharing a commitment to the City of Houston in making it a truly global city,” Diaz said.
Making the long-haul as comfortable as possible, United will operate a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner to service the route, an aircraft that has 252 seats and features 48 flat-bed seats in its Polaris business class section. As well as offering a coveted destination, the new route will offer faster and more convenient travel between the U.S. and Australia, connecting more than 70 cities from across North America with one-stop service through Houston. For example, customers originating in Charlotte, North Carolina, fly to Chicago to connect to San Francisco en route to Sydney today. With United's new schedule through Bush Airport, passengers now have just one stop at Houston to get to Sydney, saving hours off the journey by reducing the number of connections.
United has operated for nearly 50 years from its hub at Bush Airport. United and United Express offer nearly 500 daily flights to more than 170 destinations around the world, including top business and leisure markets in Asia, Europe and the Americas. The Houston hub is United's premier gateway to Latin America, serving 51 nonstop destinations across Latin America and the Caribbean. United is also one of Houston's largest employers, with more than 14,000 Houston-based employees.
United customers are seeing a big transformation in Houston with its $277 million investment in the new Terminal C North with roomier gate areas, the latest technology and chef-inspired dining choices.