The number of direct flights between the United States and Asia continues to increase, shortening the distance between the two regions. United Airlines, already a leader in long haul flights to Asia, is helping to further these connections, introducing a new direct flight from Houston, Texas to Sydney, Australia. In January, the first ever nonstop flight between Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport and Sydney Airport took off.
The flight, which will run daily, clocks in between 15 and 17 hours, making it the second longest flight in the world. The new flight also continues United’s recent legacy of launching long haul flights between the United States and Asia, after it unveiled a new Los Angeles-Singapore route just last year, currently the world’s longest flight. Despite the distance, the new flight will make it much easier for those living on the East Coast or in the Midwest to travel to Australia, as such travelers previously faced a journey requiring them to make at least two stops over more than 20 hours.
This new flight will offer greater access for tourists and business travelers to and from Australia, as Texas continues to expand its cultural and economic ties to the country. Texas and Australia share a sister state partnership and eight sister city relationships, including one between Houston and Perth, celebrating its 34thanniversary this year. Australian tourists visiting the state spent almost $450 million in 2015, while nearly 7000 Australians live in Texas, helping build the popularity of the new flight. Trade is also strong, with Texas exporting $2.5 billion worth of goods to Australia in 2014. This is in part due to the signing of the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement in 2004, which led to a 62% rise in exports from Texas to Australia, giving business travelers yet another incentive to make the — now shorter — trip to and from Australia.
Savannah Shih is a research intern at the East-West Center and a graduate student of Asian Studies at the George Washington University in Washington, D.C.