SINGAPORE: Singapore Airlines (SIA) will launch the world's longest commercial flights on Oct 11 between Singapore and the New York area, the airline said in a news release on Wednesday (May 30).
The 161-seat flights to Newark Liberty International Airport on the new Airbus A350-900ULR will cover about 15,329km, and travelling time will be up to 18 hours and 45 minutes.
These will eclipse the 14,525km Qatar Airways flights from Doha to Auckland as the world's longest, according to airline data provider OAG.
The Singapore-Newark flight marks the return of a popular route for Singapore Airlines. The carrier had flown the marathon flights until 2013, when high fuel prices made the use of four-engine Airbus SE A340-500 jets uneconomic. It has since flown to New York's JFK Airport via Frankfurt.
For a start, the Singapore-Newark flight will operate three times a week from Changi Airport on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Daily operations will start from Oct 18 when an additional aircraft comes into service.
The aircraft will have two cabin classes - Business and Premium Economy. Tickets will be made available for sale progressively across various booking channels starting from Thursday, said SIA.
“We are pleased to be leading the way with these new non-stop flights using the latest-technology, ultralong-range Airbus A350-900ULR,” said SIA CEO Goh Choon Phong.
The new Airbus range features higher ceilings, larger windows and better air quality, said SIA.
It is the world's first customer for the new A350-900ULR, an ultra-long range version of the fuel-efficient twin-engine A350 jet, and SIA expects the first aircraft to be delivered in September. Seven more such aircraft are due for delivery by the end of the year.
Changi Airport Group (CAG) welcomed this announcement as well on Wednesday, noting that the new service is Southeast Asia’s only non-stop connection to the North American east coast.
"With the advent of ultra long range aircraft, non-stop long haul routes are now more efficient and viable," said CAG’s managing director, air hub development, Mr Lim Ching Kiat.
"I’m confident it will be well-received by Changi Airport’s passengers, especially time-pressed business travellers.
"With strong traffic growth between the North America and Southeast Asia regions, there are growth opportunities to be tapped," he added.
With the new Singapore-Newark service, there will be 72 weekly passenger services between Changi Airport and the United States, said CAG.
It added that there were 692,800 passenger movements recorded on direct flights between Singapore and the United States last year.
There are also plans for non-stop Singapore-Los Angeles flights that will be announced later, said SIA.
Aside from Singapore Airlines, other airlines including Qantas Airways and United Airlines are adding ultra-long haul flights that can capture an airfare premium of around 20 per cent versus flights involving one or more stops.
Qantas has said it is considering the purchase of the A350-900ULR or Boeing Co's 777X to allow it to fly non-stop from Sydney to London from 2022, an even longer 17,038km journey.