The flight spanning about 10,000 miles will take a bit under 19 hours, making it the longest non-stop commercial flight in the U.S. and the world. The Airbus 350-900ULR has been configured to carry 67 business passengers and 94 premium economy customers — no basic economy on this flight.
Singapore Airlines had cut the route, which had been flying since 2004, because of high fuel prices in 2013. But executives told the BBC demand has been strong, with all the business class seats booked up for the inaugural flight from Singapore to Newark today.
“Operating trans-Pacific connecting flights opened Singapore Airlines to a lot more competition from other carriers and resulted in the loss of high-yielding business traffic,” Corrine Png, CEO of transport research firm Crucial Perspective, told Reuters. “We expect Singapore Airlines to regain market share, especially in the premium travel market.”
Qatar Airway’s flight from Auckland, New Zealand, to Doha is now in the No. 2 spot, and Qantas’s flight from Perth to London is the third-longest flight in the world. The United Airways (ual) Los Angeles to Singapore route is now the second-longest flight to or from the U.S.
Qantas (qubsf) has been trying to set up a direct London-Sydney flight, which would take about 20 hours and take the top spot from Singapore. CEO Alan Joyce has been in talks with Boeing and Airbus about producing long-haul jets capable of such a journey and wants to be able to offer the route in 2022.
With planes getting lighter, we could be entering a new age of ultra-long-haul flights — but will it really take off? According to aviation data firm OAG, there are now 19 regularly-scheduled long-haul flights of at least 7,000 nautical miles. Jet fuel prices are back on the rise, though still below 2013 levels, so Singapore Airlines’ tactic of focusing on business and premium economy passengers could pay off.