Friday Oct 12, 2018
The world's longest commercial flight which took off from Singapore landed in New York on Friday after 17 hours and 25 minutes.
The record-setting flight touched down at Newark Liberty International Airport at 5:24am (New York time) on Friday.
A spokesperson for Singapore Airlines told AFP that Flight SQ22 departed at approximately 11:35pm (1535 GMT) with 150 passengers and 17 crew on board.
Two pilots, a special "wellness" menu and more than seven weeks' worth of film and television entertainment accompanied the travelers on the 16,700-kilometre (10,400-mile) journey to the Big Apple.
The long-range Airbus A350-900ULR was configured to carry up to 161 passengers — 67 in business class and 94 in premium economy, with no regular economy seats available.
For the flight crew — which also included two first officers and a 13-strong cabin contingent — the workload was broken up, the airline said, with each pilot having a minimum eight hours' rest during the flight.
The twin-engine plane uses a modified system that burns 25 per cent less fuel than other aircraft of a similar size, Airbus said.
The flight from the city-state to Newark Airport can take up to 18 hours and 45 minutes under normal weather conditions, but the pilots will have something in reserve in an aircraft capable of flying more than 20 hours non-stop.
Singapore Airlines originally flew the route for nine years using the gas-guzzling, four-engine A340-500 before abandoning it in 2013 because high oil prices made the service unprofitable.
But the carrier is hoping that the introduction of more fuel-efficient planes will set cash registers ringing even as crude prices soar above $80.
The Singapore Airlines' flight has topped the current longest direct air link between cities — Qatar Airways Flight 921 from Auckland to Doha, which takes 17 hours 40 minutes.
"It´s turning out to be a race between a few airlines eyeing the longest routes inter-continentally," said Shukor Yusof of aviation consultancy Endau Analytics.
"They are hoping to capitalise and exploit a very niche market," he told AFP.
Facing increasingly strong competition in recent years, Singapore Airlines has consolidated its low-fare subsidiaries and is strengthening its premium segment.
"Ultra-long haul services comprise an important component of that strategy," an airline spokesman told AFP.
The company is the first airline in the world to operate the A350-900ULR plane. It received the first aircraft in September. Six more are due for delivery by the end of the year.
"We are optimistic about the demand for non-stop services to the US," the spokesman said.
Analyst Shukor, however, said it remained to be seen whether the airline and other operators of marathon flights can withstand the pressure from rising oil prices.