Saturday 24 February 2018

World's longest flights to cease

A Singapore Airlines Boeing 777 has slid off the runway at Munich Airport
A Singapore Airlines Boeing 777 has slid off the runway at Munich Airport

Singapore Airlines announced yesterday that it will stop its non-stop flight between Singapore and Newark – which, at 9,500 miles, is currently the world’s longest unbroken commercial flight – at the end of next year.

The airline will also stop the non-stop route between Singapore and Los Angeles – shorter in terms of distance but with a longer flight time.

Both routes currently use Airbus A340-500s, which will be sold back to Airbus in autumn next year as part of a major new deal. The airline has agreed to order five more Airbus 380s and 20 more A350s to renew its fleet.

The airline is thought to have struggled to make the routes profitable, with rising fuel costs and the current economic climate meaning passengers were unwilling to pay premium prices. Both flights were started in 2004 were run on an all business-class basis.

The flight time from Newark to Singapore stands at 18 hours, while the voyage from Los Angeles is about 1,500 miles shorter but takes 18 hours and 30 minutes, as the aircraft is slowed by trade winds across the Pacific Ocean.

So far this year, plans to cut at least three other non-stop ultra long-haul flights – usually defined as more than 15 hours – have been announced. These include Thai Airways International's route between Bangkok and Los Angeles, Delta Air Lines' flight from Detroit to Hong Kong and American Airlines' service from Chicago to New Delhi.

Once the Singapore Airlines flights are grounded, the longest flight in the world would be the route between Dallas-Fort Worth and Sydney operated by Qantas as the world’s current commercial flight network stands.

Again, the longest-lasting flight would be different, with a 17-hour Delta flight between Johannesburg and Atlanta taking that title.

Jolyon Attwooll

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