With a vigorous global economy and demand for air travel in high gear, airline route maps continue to blossom like flowers in springtime. The coming year is set to welcome some highly anticipated new international services as well as the return of a couple of old favorites connecting more dots on the globe than ever before.
1 United Airlines Houston-Sydney
United is starting off 2018 with a bang, launching the second-longest non-stop route in its network on Jan. 18 between Houston and Sydney (its longest, between Los Angeles and Singapore, launched in October). The route will be Australia’s sole non-stop connection to the Texas city, and will be operated by United’s Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner – note that these feature United’s older business class cabins, with 48 fully flat seats in a 2-2-2 layout, and not the new Polaris seats currently available on the 777-300ER.
San Francisco-Pape’ete, Tahiti
United has also announced it will begin service between San Francisco and Pape’ete, the capital of Tahiti, the gateway to many of the islands in French Polynesia including Bora Bora, Moorea, the Marquesas and Raiatea. United is the only US carrier offering nonstop service to Tahiti from the mainland United States. The seasonal nonstop service will operate three times weekly aboard a 787 Dreamliner beginning Oct. 30, 2018, through March 28, 2019, subject to government approval.
2 Delta Air Lines Atlanta-Shanghai
Delta is expanding its Asia network with new daily service between Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and Shanghai Pudong International Airport starting in July 2018. The new Atlanta flight will be Delta’s fourth US gateway to Shanghai, complementing existing service from Detroit, Seattle and Los Angeles. The flights will be aboard the 291-seat Boeing 777-200LR aircraft featuring 37 lie-flat seats in Delta One, 36 seats in Delta Comfort-Plus and 218 seats in the main cabin. Every seat has WiFi, a personal inflight seatback entertainment screen as well as power ports. Complimentary meals, including locally sourced Chinese meals, and beverages will also be provided in all cabins.
Delta, in cooperation with joint venture partner Air France KLM, is scheduled to begin nonstop service from Indianapolis to Paris-Charles de Gaulle beginning May 24. The flights will be operated by Boeing 767-300ER aircraft, equipped with 25 fully lie-flat seats in Delta One, 29 seats Delta Comfort+ and 171 seats in the main cabin. Every seat has access to WiFi, free personal inflight seatback entertainment screens as well as power ports. Complimentary meals and beverages will also be provided in all cabins of service.
3 Hong Kong Airlines Hong Kong-San Francisco
Hong Kong Airlines’ North American expansion is in full swing, with the launch of its new Airbus A350 flights to Los Angeles in December. The airline is next set to fly to San Francisco starting March 25 this year. The A350 is due to take on this route as well, and will fly between the two cities four times a week.
4 Air France Paris-Taipei
It’s been almost two decades since Air France served the Taiwan capital, but beginning April 16 the carrier will be reviving its non-stop flights between Paris and Taipei. Set to fly three times a week, the service will be flown with the airline’s Boeing 777-200 outfitted with Air France’s newest cabins, which in business class offers fully flat seats in a 1-2-1 configuration.
5 Asiana Airlines Seoul-Venice
Korean carrier Asiana Airlines has flown occasional charter flights to Venice since 2014, however on May 1 this year the route is set to become a permanent scheduled addition to its network. Flying three times a week on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, the service will be operated by the airline’s Boeing 777-200, featuring its newer, fully flat Business Smartium seat products. The Venice service will then be followed by a four-times-weekly service to Barcelona, which will take off on Aug. 30.
6 LOT Polish Airlines Warsaw-Singapore
Singapore will be getting its first non-stop connection to Poland on May 15 with LOT Polish Airlines set to fly to the Lion City from Warsaw, initially three times a week with a fourth weekly flight set to take off in July. Asia along with North America has been a focus for the Polish carrier, and this new route will be its first Southeast Asia air link. Travelers will fly on the airline’s Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner, which has business, premium economy and economy class seating.
7 Cathay Pacific Hong Kong-Washington DC
Sept. 15 will see the launch of Cathay Pacific’s longest route in its network – an 8,154-mile, 17-hour non-stop flight between Hong Kong and the US capital. Notably, the four-times-weekly route will be one of the first to see the airline’s newest aircraft, the Airbus A350-1000, the first of which Cathay Pacific is set to receive this spring. The service will add to the Hong Kong carrier’s current services to the US East Coast, including Boston and New York.
8 Qantas Melbourne-San Francisco
Much has been made of Qantas’s relaunch of its “Kangaroo Route” that will directly link Perth and London, set to take off on March 25 this year, but this isn’t the only interesting route Australia’s flag carrier is launching in 2018. Following the beginning of its Melbourne-Los Angeles service last month, Qantas will begin flying between the Victorian capital and San Francisco late this year.
An exact start date as well as frequency have yet to be announced for the route – it appears the airline will be taking some of its Los Angeles frequency and passing it over to the San Francisco service – but Qantas has confirmed the flights will be flown using its newest aircraft, the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, which has an all-new cabin products.
9 Norwegian Denver-Paris
Among a half-dozen launches of new North America routes to European destinations this winter and spring, low cost carrier Norwegian has announced it will commence service from Denver International Airport to Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport beginning April 9. The twice-weekly, year round flights will operate on Mondays and Fridays aboard the airline’s Boeing 787 Dreamliners with two cabins, economy class and premium. Premium service includes a dedicated check-in counter, additional luggage allowance, fast track security, lounge access, priority boarding, sleeper seats, and meals and drinks.
10 LATAM Airlines São Paulo-Rome
LATAM Airlines Brazil has announced new routes to Boston, Rome and Lisbon all departing from its São Paulo/Guarulhos hub. Flights to Rome will begin March 16 and will operate three times weekly, increasing to five weekly flights in July. The route will be operated aboard Boeing 767 aircraft, offering 191 seats in Economy and 30 seats in Premium Business. Rome will become the group’s second destination in Italy after Milan.
LATAM flights from São Paulo to Boston and Libson are slated for mid-2018 and are awaiting regulatory approval.