SINGAPORE: The world of aviation is awash with one-upmanship and superlatives – biggest, fastest, most spacious, and anything else that can be crammed into a headline. So it should be no surprise that, this week, the question as to what is the world’s longest flight has pinged on the radar for the third time in just over a year.
This time, the crown is being lifted towards the head of Singapore Airlines, via its announcement of a regular scheduled link between its home base, Changi Airport, and Newark Liberty International – the busy American hub which serves New York from the other side of the state line, in New Jersey.
At a scheduled 18 hours 45 minutes in length, and a distance of 9,537 miles, this “Singapore-New York” connection will be the world’s longest passenger service.
It is due to begin operations on October 11, and will run three times in its first week on the schedules, taking off from Singapore on the Monday, Thursday and Saturday. Daily flights will commence on October 18, when an additional aircraft will be ready.
Its addition to the global skymap will eclipse the route between Doha and New Zealand’s biggest city Auckland, flown by Qatar Airways. At 9,032 miles and 17 hours 40 minutes, this has been the world’s longest flight since it first took to the heavens in February 2017.
It will lose its title in the autumn, but will remain longer than the air-link between London Heathrow and Perth which launched in March of this year. At the time, there were suggestions that this Qantas connection would be the planet’s lengthiest, but it falls just short of Qatar Airways’s offering, at 9,010 miles and 17 hours 20 minutes.
Keen observers of aviation trends will point out that the “new” Singapore Airlines flight to Newark is not really new at all. It is a reinstation of a service which existed earlier this millennium, but was pulled from the timetables in 2013.
Its return will see the first use of the Airbus A350-900ULR.
A variant of the A350 XWB, the aircraft is specially designed for ultra-long-haul flights (“ULR” stands for “Ultra Long Range”), its extra fuel capacity giving it a maximum range of 19 hours and 9,700 nautical miles (11,163 miles).
Singapore Airlines is the launch customer for the plane, with seven on order from Airbus.
There is, though, a catch for travellers who wish to fly on a budget. To save on fuel costs, the aircraft will have space for just 161 passengers – and no economy class cabin.
Singapore Airlines will configure it in a two-class layout, with 67 Business Class seats and 94 Premium Economy seats. Ticket prices will be released tomorrow.
The Singapore Airlines service will not have an economy cabin
“Singapore Airlines has always taken pride in pushing the boundaries,” says the airline’s CEO, Goh Choon Phong. “We are pleased to be leading the way with these new non-stop flights using the latest-technology, ultra-long-range Airbus A350-900ULR.”
“The flights will offer our customers the fastest way to travel between the two cities.”
The airline also has plans to launch a non-stop Singapore-Los Angeles service using the A350-900ULR.
It also serves New York’s JFK airport, and Houston in Texas – although both these connections currently involve a pause, in Frankfurt and Manchester respectively.