United Airlines will increase its Melbourne services to 40 per cent above pre-pandemic levels, with daily flights to both San Francisco and Los Angeles to start from later this year.

Services between Los Angeles and Melbourne will resume on 28 October, with a three times weekly schedule increasing to daily from 1 December. 

The popular San Francisco-Melbourne route, which is currently served three times per week, will also be flown daily from 28 October. 

Melbourne Airport CEO Lorie Argus said the move would significantly increase passenger and cargo capacity between Victoria and the United States, providing a huge boost for tourism and the Victorian economy. 

“United will soon fly 14 return services a week between Melbourne and the US west coast, which is more than what they flew prior to the pandemic and firmly embeds Melbourne as a primary gateway to Australia for United,” she said.

“United’s extensive network and local partnership with Virgin Australia means that millions of people have one- stop access to Melbourne, and as Virgin Australia’s largest domestic hub, Melbourne has more connections to Perth, Adelaide, Canberra and Tasmania than any other Australian city.”

Victorian Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events Steve Dimopoulos said United’s commitment to Melbourne would help support local tourism, while also providing local exporters with more options to move their products across the Pacific. 

“We’ve been working hard with Melbourne Airport to restore international capacity and the increase of United flights is key to boosting tourism and jobs in Victoria,” he said.

“Australia remains high on the list for many US travellers, and our unique blend of food, sport and culture means Melbourne is the perfect place to start any holiday down under.”

With holidays now front of mind for many Victorians, Melbourne Airport is encouraging those heading away for the September school break to allow plenty of time. 

More than 1.46 million people are forecast to pass through Melbourne Airport’s terminals between 16 September and 2 October, with airlines expecting to carry around 1.14 million domestic travellers and just over 320,000 international passengers, which is comparable to the winter school holiday period.

Melbourne Airport recommends passengers pre-book parking and arrive between 1-2 hours ahead of a domestic flight and 2-3 hours before an international departure.