Singapore Airlines Will Restart the World’s Longest Flights – And Why That Matters

Qantas currently operates the longest flight in the world, Sydney – Dallas, with an Airbus A380.

Emirates is launching Dubai – Panama City as the new longest flight in the world operated by a Boeing 777-200LR.

Qantas, though, is already working on a flight that would take back the title with a non-stop Perth-London flight onboard a Boeing 787-9 in 2017.

That flight, though, would still be 500 miles shorter than the Newark – Singapore flight Singapore Airlines used to operate.

And it looks like Singapore Airlines is going to bring back US flights starting in 2018.

Singapore Airlines will restart non-stop flights to the USA using a new ultra-long-range version of the Airbus A350…First deliveries of the A350-900ULR aircraft are slated for 2018, according to Airbus.

…”Our customers have been asking us to re-start non-stop Singapore-US flights and we are pleased that Airbus was able to offer the right aircraft to do so in a commercially viable manner,” said Singapore Airlines CEO Goh Choon Phong.

What’s more, the aircraft will get a new business class seat that will first go into new Airbus A380 aircraft.

Here’s the current business class, which is one of the world’s best:

One reason we’re seeing longer flights is new, more fuel efficient aircraft. Another is cheaper fuel. These flights were simply uneconomic with $100 a barrel oil. They’re super expensive, since they have to carry extra fuel just to fly all the fuel needed for such a long journey.

And they need to have high enough fares to cover the cost not just of fuel and crew but of the aircraft — there’s not much you can do with an aircraft beyond the one daily flight when an aircraft is flying a route that takes 18 hours. That wasn’t happening during the recession, and could well not happen going forward, but airlines think the chances are better now than they were.

This would be huge for Singapore Airlines. As it stands they are at a severe disadvantage in the US market. That’s because it takes a stop to get to Singapore, and then from Singapore to elsewhere in Southeast Asia. That means competitor Cathay Pacific – which serves more US cities than Singapore as well — can get US passengers to their destinations in Asia in a minimum of one fewer stop. From cities like Chicago and Boston it’s two fewer stops. A non-stop from the US to their Singapore hub erases the airline’s geographic disadvantage.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. No word yet on cabin configuration other than it will have the new business seats that will already have started going into Singapore’s new A380s when these are delivered.

  2. Is the ULR a variant of the 359? Also, I wonder why this flight isn’t viable sooner with the 77L which is similarly sized?

  3. Logic would suggest that a NYC-SIN flight could work with the right aircraft. There’s obviously real biz class demand in that market, so it becomes a question of economics.

    I’m skeptical of LON-PER. Perth has become a pretty big city (pop. a little less than 2 million), but it’s still kind of a remote backwater. There’s no connectivity advantage to the rest of the Australia. And with the heavily subsidized Middle East airlines offering a zillion Australia connections — one of the few markets where geography TRULY works well for the Middle East — I don’t see how the math could work.

  4. @iahphx – I think LHR-PER could be considered an extreme example of a “long and thin” route at 9009 miles, but that is what these aircraft are being touted for. That being said, I would agree that a stop in DBX or AUH etc. on a ME carrier is not really that objectionable IMO.

  5. PER-LHR makes a lot of sense – not just for O/D but also for those who wish to fly all-Qantas rather than stopping in Asia or Middle East. (And honestly, who wants an extra stop?) And plenty of O/D business travel for all the mining/oil companies, financiers, etc. not to mention easy connections to Europe. Perth is no longer a “remote backwater” – unless you’d put Denver in that category.

  6. LHR-PER makes more sense than it would seem at first glance. Perth in AustralIa has a very large expat UK originationg poulation, second and third generation.

    For more, research “10 pound Poms”.

  7. With respect, there is NO way we are going to see Qantas launching non-stop Perth-London in 2017, unless it’s a one-off promo flight aimed solely to garner PR (similar to the non-stop LHR=SYD flight of the Aussie airline’s first Boeing 747-400).

    Qantas will take delivery of its first Boeing 787-9 at the tail end of 2017, with the rest to follow from 2018, and the first clutch of Dreamliners are all geared towards replacing the Boeing 747s.

  8. A non-stop from the US to their Singapore hub erases the airline’s geographic disadvantage.

    How’s that? Are they planning to move SIN a thousand miles or so north?

    http://www.gcmap.com/mapui?P=jfk-sin-sgn,jfk-hkg-sgn

    http://www.gcmap.com/mapui?P=lax-sin-sgn,lax-hkg-sgn

    SIN is really poorly positioned to be a scissors hub for the USA for India compared to DXB, and for most of S. Asia compared to HKG, and North Asia compared to (fill in the blank of your choice of PEK/ICN/NRT/HND), and for Australia compared to LAX. You’re adding hours to travel that don’t have to be added.

    SQ isn’t going to be connecting Americans at SIN, unless it’s the frequent flier enthusiast crowd (which is tiny); this is all about nonstop service to SIN without having to stop at FRA/NRT/ICN/HKG/DME.

  9. You know, I flew the old EWR-SIN flight once (and returned SIN-LAX). I hope the new flight includes economy, as a big plane full of J, strange as it seems, just isn’t that fun. The service wasn’t up to the standards I found on other SQ routes either. Not sure if that was a byproduct of having a whole plane full of special people, but I can’t think that it wasn’t.

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