To avoid Russia, Cathay flight would be world’s longest passenger flight: report

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Cathay Pacific is set to claim the title of world’s longest passenger flight by distance if it re-routes its New York route to avoid flying over Russia airspace, according to a report from Bloomberg.  

The Hong Kong-based carrier is planning to operate its New York JFK to Hong Kong (HKG) by flying over the Atlantic, the UK, southern Europe and central Asia, Bloomberg reported, citing an internal memo sent to Cathay Pacific flight staff.  

Usually, the Cathay flight covers 12,990 kilometers and has a flight time of about 15 hours for the regular flight over Russia, the report said. 

But the alternative route would come in at approximately 16,700 km, thus claiming the title of longest flight by distance covered from Singapore Airlines (SIA1) (SINGY), whose route between New York JFK and Changi comes in at approximately 15,300 km. 

Cathay Pacific told AeroTime that it constantly looked at contingency routings.  

“We compare flight routes daily, and will plan and fly what is the most efficient routing on the day,” a spokesperson said in emailed comments.  

Cathay Pacific said its Airbus A350-1000 aircraft can “comfortably accomplish” the almost 9,000 nautical mile transatlantic route in 16 to 17 hours “with similar fuel consumption to the transpacific flights.” 

However, even though it may be a longer route by distance covered, Cathay is not intending for the route to be as long in terms of time in the air as Singapore’s JFK-SIN route thanks to strong tailwinds.  

“The transatlantic option relies on the facilitation of strong seasonal tailwinds at this time of the year in order for the flight time to be between 16 and 17 hours, thereby making it more favourable than the transpacific route,” Cathay said.  “We are monitoring the tailwinds situation on a daily basis as it is already tapering off.” 

Singapore Airlines (SIA1) (SINGY) says that its flights from JFK and Newark Liberty International Airport are the world’s two longest flights with a flight time of around 18 hours and 45 minutes.  

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has prompted many countries, including European Union members, to close their airspace to Russian carriers and in retaliation, Russia has closed its airspace to those countries. Finnair is among the worst hit, with almost five hours being added to some journeys between Finland and Asia.   


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