Singapore Airlines in Talks to Reclaim Title of World’s Longest Flight

Singapore Airlines is in discussions with Airbus and Boeing to revive its 19 hour flight from Singapore to New York, according to Bloomberg. To frequent flyers between the two cities like David Selakovic, this is news to look forward to.

When it was offered, this 9,000 nautical mile direct flight between Newark Liberty International Airport and Changi Airport was the longest commercial flight in the world. The carrier discontinued its nonstop service between Singapore and New York back in 2013 because it was not profitable. After this change, the trip became five hours longer for passengers. Currently, a stopover in Frankfurt is required for passengers flying between the two cities.

The original 19 hour flight first took off in June 2004 with 181 business and economy class seats on the A340 aircraft. In 2008, it was converted to an all business class configuration, reducing its passenger limit to 100. With the rising cost of fuel, continuing to fly the ultra long haul flight proved to be uneconomical. The plane burned a lot of fuel, but carried too few passengers. Richard Aboulafia, an analyst at aerospace consultant Teal Group, said that using a twin-engine plane would be more economical as they are made for the long haul. The A340 had four engines, and was too costly to sustain for the nonstop route.

“I found the direct route from Changi to Newark to be very efficient,” says Selakovic, who makes the journey between Singapore and New York monthly, “Newark is a much easier airport to navigate compared to JFK. I will be the first to purchase a ticket if they are able to come up with the technology for a profitable nonstop flight.” After the direct flight retired, Selakovic is one of many that has no other choice but to stopover in Frankfurt. For business travelers, longer journeys could result in reduced productivity and complicate adjustment to time changes.

Singapore Airlines was named second best airline in the world, after Qatar Airways, in the annual Airline of the Year award by Skytrax. The carrier is also trying to increase partnerships with other airlines and develop hubs abroad to get a wider network connectivity.