For years, Singapore Airlines had the title of operating the world’s two longest nonstop flights — New York to Singapore and Los Angeles to Singapore. At over 9,500 miles and roughly 19 hours, the Newark to Singapore flight sure was a longhaul.
Fortunately the planes were in an all business class configuration, featuring just 100 seats. So it was a comfortable ride for those aboard, at least.
Unfortunately both routes were discontinued in 2013, as Singapore Airlines made the decision to return their A340-500s to Airbus, which were the only planes in their fleet capable of operating the route nonstop. Even though Singapore Airlines seemed to have pretty high loads, there just wasn’t a way they could make the route profitable given what gas guzzlers the A340-500s are.
There’s no doubt a lot of people miss the nonstop flights, given that they were Singapore Airlines’ only nonstop flights between their hub and the US, while all of their other US routes operate via other gateways (including Frankfurt, Hong Kong, Moscow, Seoul, and Tokyo).
Now the title for the world’s longest flight belongs to Qantas for their nonstop Dallas to Sydney flight, and in February that title will shift to Emirates, for their nonstop Dubai to Panama City flight.
The exciting news is that it looks like Singapore Airlines will be bringing back the world’s longest flight in 2018, when they take delivery of their first ultra-long range Airbus A350.
Qatar Airways A350
“Our customers have been asking us to re-start nonstop Singapore-U.S. flights,” Singapore Air Chief Executive Officer Goh Choon Phong said in the statement. “We are pleased that Airbus was able to offer the right aircraft to do so in a commercially viable manner.”
The A350-900ULR jet will allow Singapore Air to re-start the world’s longest nonstop flights, between the city-state and both Los Angeles and New York, the carrier said in an e-mailed statement Tuesday. Nonstop flights between Singapore and additional points in the U.S. are under consideration, the carrier said.
Singapore Airlines will be taking delivery of a total of seven of these ultra-long range A350-900s, so presumably they could even start one or two other ultra longhaul routes with the planes:
Singapore Air will take delivery of seven modified ultra-long range planes capable of flying up to 19 hours, Airbus said in a separate statement.
Optimized for nonstop flights to the U.S., the two-engine planes will include a modified fuel system to increase fuel-carrying capacity, an increase in maximum take-off weight and other aerodynamic improvements, Airbus said.
This is a big step for Singapore Airlines, as they’ve really been at a disadvantage not being able to offer any nonstop service from their home airport to the US. In other words, in terms of convenience there’s not really an advantage of flying Singapore Airlines over a competitor like Cathay Pacific, given that both airlines can get you from the US to Singapore in one stop.
I’m very excited about this new route, and am curious to see how Singapore Airlines configures these A350-900s. When Singapore Airlines first introduced the A340-500s they had a business class and premium economy, while eventually they just made them all business class.
I’d guess the A350s will be all business class, but time will tell.
Regardless, with the substantially lower operating costs, hopefully Singapore can make this route work. Singapore claims they have been unprofitable on a vast majority of their longhaul routes for the past six years, so hopefully this new route can be an exception.
This is definitely a flight I want to try to take the inaugural of!
What do you make of Singapore bringing back their nonstop flights to the US in a few years?