Singapore Ailines starts worlds longest commercial flights
Another milestone in aviation took place on Thursday October 11th when an Airbus A350-941 departed Singapore's Changi Airport (SIN) just before midnight, embarking on a journey that would last almost 18 hours and cover some 9,000nm.
The aircraft, registration 9V-SGB, belonged to Singapore Airlines and was performing the first of a reintroduced non-stop direct service between the airlines home base of Singapore (SIN) and Newark's Liberty Airpoer (EWR), New Jersey in the USA. 9V-SGB is one of a small number of special ultra-long-range versions of the Airbus A350 aeroplanes that Singapore ordered from the European manufacturer in order to operate those really long distance flights between Singapore and the USA.
This is not the first time Singapore Airlines has operated the route non-stop, indeed they started it in 2004 with another Airbus aircraft, an A340-500. However, the four-engined long-haul jet proved to be uneconomical as fuel prices rose dramatically and Singapore Airlines called a halt to the service in 2013, with those A340s going back to Airbus.
This time the well-respected carrier will initially operate the route in three times a week, then move to a daily schedule as another of the A350-900ULRs arrive. The direct flights are said to save passengers around six hours that a transfer on an in-direct flight would take, which business passengers welcome. Singapore Airlines are aiming to appeal more at the lucrative upper end of the market this time around as it has configured the super efficient jet with just 67 Business Class seats and 94 Premium Economy Class seats.
“Singapore Airlines has always taken pride in pushing the boundaries to provide the best possible travel convenience for our customers, and we are pleased to be leading the way with these new non-stop flights using the latest-technology, ultra-long-range Airbus A350-900ULR,” said Singapore Airlines’ CEO, Mr Goh Choon Phong. “The flights will offer our customers the fastest way to travel between the two cities – in great comfort, together with Singapore Airlines’ legendary service - and will help boost connectivity to and through the Singapore hub.”.
Passengers arriving at the gate for the inaugural flight were greeted singing Singapore cabin crew, hot-dogs, New York cheesecake and an exclusive goodie bag containing a commemorative certificate and a pair of SIA-branded Bodum glasses.
The flight took off just a little late, yet arrived in Newark at 0529 local time after a flight time of 17 hours 52 minutes much to the delight of the passengers and awaiting media. But will the worlds longest commercial flight be successful the second time around? It is impossible to say, although there were 11 free seats in the premium econony cabin for the first flight to Newark and when I checked, there were still business class seats available for the next three departures from Singapore. The airline certainly see's a future in these ultra long range flights, it plans to introduce direct non-stop flights to Los Angeles (LAX) on November 2nd 2018 and has seven firm orders for the A350-900ULR.