Singapore Airlines Shifts World’s Longest Flight To JFK

Filed Under: Singapore

Singapore Airlines will be resuming service to New York, and in the process will be launching the world’s new longest flight (by a few miles). There’s one very surprising detail, though…

Singapore Airlines resuming New York flights

Singapore Airlines will be resuming nonstop flights between Singapore and New York as of November 9, 2020, with the following schedule:

SQ24 Singapore to New York JFK departing 2:25AM arriving 7:30AM
SQ23 New York JFK to Singapore departing 10:30PM arriving 6:10AM (+2 days)

As far as the schedule goes:

  • The flight to the US is blocked at 18hr5min, and will operate on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays
  • The flight to Singapore is blocked at 18hr40min, and will operate on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays
  • That means two days per week the plane will be on the ground in New York for 15 hours, while one day per week it will be on the ground for 39 hours

Currently Singapore Airlines’ US service is limited to nonstop flights between Singapore and Los Angeles, which operate at most a few times a week. Previously Singapore Airlines’ New York area service included:

  • A350-900ULR flights nonstop between Singapore and Newark
  • A380 flights between Singapore and New York JFK via Frankfurt

Map for the very long Singapore to Newark flight

Why is Singapore Airlines shifting from Newark to JFK?

As you can see, Singapore Airlines is shifting its nonstop NYC-area flight from Newark to JFK. That technically makes this the new longest flight in the world, as the Newark flight covered a distance of 9,534 miles, while the JFK flight covers a distance of 9,537 miles.

Why the shift? As Singapore Airlines describes the decision:

Operating to JFK International Airport would allow Singapore Airlines to better accommodate a mix of passenger and cargo traffic on its services to New York in the current operating climate. SIA’s non-stop services to New York would also be supported by the growing number of transfer passengers who can now transit via Singapore’s Changi Airport.

SIA also anticipates significant cargo demand from a range of industries based in the New York metro area, including pharmaceuticals, e-commerce and technology firms. The new service will provide the only non-stop air cargo link from the U.S. Northeast to Singapore, which serves as a regional distribution hub for many major U.S.-based companies.

It’s interesting that cargo is a significant motivator here. Given how long the flight is, presumably the flight will be heavily restricted in terms of cargo capacity? I suspect the cargo that Singapore Airlines will be carrying isn’t very heavy but is time sensitive, in which case I can see how that could work.

I’d also note that historically JFK has been slot restricted, though the airport isn’t as congested as in the past. On top of that, Singapore Airlines’ usual flight to JFK (via Frankfurt) isn’t operating at the moment.

Singapore Airlines isn’t operating A380s to JFK at the moment

Only time will tell if Singapore Airlines maintains nonstop service from SIN to JFK in the long run, or if this is only temporary while the flight via Frankfurt is suspended. Then again, who knows if that flight will even come back, given how the industry has changed.

Surprising: Singapore Airlines isn’t using an A350-900ULR for the route

Here’s the really surprising detail in this announcement. Singapore Airlines won’t be using its A350-900ULR for the route, but rather will use a standard A350-900, featuring a total of 253 seats, including:

  • 42 business class seats
  • 24 premium economy seats
  • 187 economy seats

Singapore Airlines will use an A350-900 for the route

That’s a bit puzzling. Singapore Airlines has specially configured A350-900ULRs, with the “ULR” standing for “ultra long range.” These planes are longer range and have special configurations featuring just 161 seats, including 67 business class seats and 94 premium economy seats.

Singapore Airlines’ A350-900ULR premium economy

You’d assume that this is what Singapore Airlines would use for this route given the increased range, but that’s not the case. Instead Singapore Airlines will just use a standard A350-900. I can’t help but wonder just how weight restricted this flight will be — will only a small percentage of seats be sold, or how exactly is a standard A350-900 going to accommodate passengers and cargo on a nearly 10,000 mile flight?

See here for a review of what the world’s longest flight was like on the A350-900ULR pre-coronavirus.

Singapore Airlines’ A350-900ULR business class

Bottom line

Singapore Airlines will be resuming service to New York as of November, as the airline flies 3x weekly nonstop between Singapore and New York JFK. Pre-pandemic the airline operated a nonstop flight to Newark, as well as a flight to JFK via Frankfurt.

The particularly surprising detail here is that a standard A350-900 will be used for the route, rather than an A350-900ULR.

It’s nice to see the world’s longest flight return, though I’m curious to see how this plays out in the long term, and even how long this particular flight lasts with three weekly frequencies.

What do you make of Singapore Airlines’ nonstop JFK flight?

  1. Probably won’t bring JFK-FRA-SIN for long time till demand come back or they will switch it up to EWR-FRA-SIN.

    World just view JFK as NYC’s flagship airport and probably could sell tickets little better with JFK name instead of EWR

  2. Flew EWR-SIN last year…packed. Flew back SIN-FRA-JFK….nearly empty. So agree with whale380. Don’t like the 10:30pm (+2 days) JFK departure time for EAST-WEST routes unless you happen to get the WEST-EAST flight path. Just my preference. That’s somewhat seasonal but basically hit-or-miss

  3. In the schedule mentioned I think there is a mistake as it does not add up.

    Flight to the US is operated Mon Wed and Fri

    Flight from the US is operated Mon Wed and Sat.

  4. This is so bizarre and I’m Allstate positive the flights routed through Newark for connectivity purposes on United Airlines (another star alliance member)

    But maybe this is for Search Engine Optimization? The company must have enough cargo to make the flight profitable.

  5. GREAT NEWS! 10:30 departure is slightly later than ideal but the arrival is perfect for connections in SIN. Not as many connections available from the previous EWR schedule.

  6. Reason for using the standard 359 would be due to larger cargo capacity. ULR has a lot of those space taken up by irregular shaped fuel tanks. With the restriction on going passenger numbers would be negligible anyway. You need permission to go to Singapore now even if you are willing to be quarantined.

  7. I doubt this flight will be weight restricted with fewer passengers traveling most days. Yet another blow to the prestige of EWR.

  8. Outside of some financial services workers and cargo, I can’t see anyone flying this — especially in economy.

  9. I’m willing to bet the pax loads on this flight are near zero, single digits at most. The regular -900 as mentioned above has more cargo capacity, the cargo operation at JFK blows the one at EWR out of the water. Makes perfect sense to me considering the fact that we are in the midst of a global pandemic that as much as some people want to believe, isn’t fake news

  10. @Ben, the -900 and -900ULR essentially have identical fuel tanks (i.e. the -900ULR doesn’t have extra fuel tanks, but rather the standard fuel tanks on the A350 are already MASSIVE).

    The difference is just that the ULR has an increased MTOW, due to various tweaks (software, fuel feeding, some minor structural changes, etc.) But the main thing is that -900ULR has large cargo compartments essentially sealed off and useless, because the equipment on the floor of the compartment and any other cargo-necessary features, have been removed to save weight. Essentially, the -900ULR can’t really carry any real cargo.

    So, if passenger loads are low, and money is going to be made by cargo, it makes sense to send a -900 instead of a -900ULR, since you get similar MTOW which can be used up by cargo and more fuel instead of passengers, bags, catering, etc.

  11. “Operating to JFK International Airport would allow Singapore Airlines to better accommodate a mix of passenger and cargo traffic on its services to New York in the current operating climate. SIA’s non-stop services to New York would also be supported by the growing number of transfer passengers who can now transit via Singapore’s Changi Airport.”

    Maybe it’s just me, but this statement by SIA seems rather meaningless. EWR is a metro NY airport. And the transit passenger statement doesn’t make any sense to me. Perhaps this ties in to UAL wanting to grow it’s presence at JFK.

  12. @Ksa63 – probably has zero to do with United’s JFK intentions. UA will likely be serving o/d premium routes to JFK, at least initially, mostly transcons and from hubs. The tie up at EWR was for local feed from the eastern half of the country, think smaller business markets. There will be virtually no feed from the JFK routes, as those customers could just fly via LAX and eventually SFO again. This is entirely a cargo decision. There are just no pax flying to Singapore right now.

  13. I wonder if SQ swapped their JFK-FRA slot for this 10:30pm departure. I don’t see SQ26/25 coming back anytime in the near future and the AM departure out of EWR still performed well. Perhaps in the long-run we’ll see double daily for am AM/PM departure and arrival. I would have far preferred an earlier SIN departure/JFK arrival. 7:30am arrival lands right in the middle of rush hour madness.

    SQ is not relying on NY connections. They are relying on SIN. The red-eye both ways and early morning arrival in SIN is clearly timed to connect with its 7-10am morning bank of Asia/OZ departures. The previous PM arrival excluded many regional destinations. The fact that SQ never had a single UA codeshare out of EWR all while maintaining their B6 partnership is quite telling of their relationship with UA/*A.

  14. I think the ground time at JFK might be even longer… with 2 SQ A350 on the tarmac at JFK sometimes…
    arrive Mon 0730 depart Wed 2230
    arrive Wed 0730 depart Fri 2230
    arrive Sat 0730 depart Mon 2230

  15. JFK sells a lot better than EWR and has much better pricing power. Just look at how much cheaper the United flights out of EWR are selling compared to the same AA or DL flights out of JFK.

  16. I suppose economy won’t be that bad if the load factors are low – plenty of room to sleep across 3-4 seats.

  17. I’m assuming, while light at the moment, there has been NJ/NY travel restrictions and they’re advising non-essential tri-state area travel, so JFK would avoid any issues of staffing/travel/cargo.

  18. Travel Apatite & pax numbers are still low and picking simultaneously…. making sense to combi cargo/pax , restricted weights idea is possible too

  19. This flight is aimed at travellers who miss visiting a world city but not permitted to visit Tokyo, Bangkok or Hong Kong. I feel that Singaporeans will fall in love with New York especially in the winter spring and fall seasons. It’s just a pity it’s so far away and traditionally Singapore Airlines never bothered trying anyway.

    I would like to clarify that Singapore and United are great companies who partner well. The only reason why closer relationship cannot occur because United, ANA, Singapore would be a monopoly. And quite a lot of London bound pax actually connect across Virgin and Delta’s UK US network. Because I do not think a pro US slant is beneficial for UK, I see a significantly downsize market that may be filled by DL A321LR and B6 A220.

    The fact that the flight seems to arrive at similar time to VS24 is telling

  20. Flew the Seattle-SIN flight last year. It was sold as a 16 hour flight but my flight ended up taking 17 hours due to weather issues while landing in Singapore. I did not enjoy the flight since it felt too long. 14-15 hours is probably the upper limit. Beyond that is a torture. The return leg SIN-SEA takes 14 hours which is tolerable. Also A350 isn’t as good as A380 for economy comfort. My onward flight from SIN was an A380 and you can immediately realize the difference.

    Unfortunately A380s will mostly be discontinued and A350s will never be able to match that level of comfort.

  21. Singapore Air interlines with FedEx and UPS. UPS has their main NYC center at JFK. While FedEx’s main NE hub is at EWR. If cargo is the reason, then UPS is that customer.

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