World’s longest domestic flight flies under radar


When earlier this year Air Tahiti Nui flew from French Polynesia directly to Paris (France), it broke several records along the way, including the longest domestic flight. Two months later, another French airline, French Bee, covered an even larger distance, it said. However, the latter achievement passed largely unnoticed. 

French bee, sister French airline of Air Caraïbes and subsidiary company of the Dubreuil Group, said it made the longest nonstop domestic commercial flight on May 15, 2020. The company’s Airbus A350-900, registration F-HREY, took off from Tahiti-Faa’a and landed in Paris-Orly (France), having covered an over 16,129 kilometers route in 16 hours 49 minutes. 

“The flight was carried out under standard performance conditions of the Airbus A350, with an average altitude of 12,500 meters, at a speed of 940 km/h. The A350’s fuel consumption qualities, 25% less than a conventional long-haul aircraft, enabled it to cross these 16,129 kilometers,” Ludovic André, Director of Air Operations and Chief Pilot of French bee explained in the company’s statement.

Distance-wise, French Bee indeed beat Air Tahiti Nui, which claimed the world’s longest domestic flight title (in addition to the world’s  longest passenger flight by traveled distance ever) exactly two months prior. 

On March 15, 2020, Air Tahiti Nui departed Papeete airport (PPT), on the island of Tahiti in French Polynesia. Usually the flight TN064 makes a stopover in Los Angeles airport (LAX), United States; however, due to COVID-19 virus spear, passenger flights between the U.S. and Europe had been banned four days prior. 

Thus, the company’s Boeing 787 Dreamliner, registered F-OTOA, crossed the American continent straight towards its destination and landed in Paris-Charles-de-Gaulle airport (CDG) some 15 hours and 45 minutes later. It had traveled a distance of 15,715 kilometers (9,764 miles).

The main difference between these two ultra-long journeys between metropolitan France and its overseas regions lie not as much with the route distance, but with what was carried onboard the aircraft. Air Tahiti’s Boeing 787 Dreamliner carried 130 passengers, while French Bee’s Airbus A350-900 was returning home after delivering 20 tones of medication to French Polynesia. 

On the main photo: French Bee Airbus A350-900 (F-HRY) pictured in Orly airport.

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