Singapore Airlines to restart world’s longest flight in November — with a big change

Oct 21, 2020

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The world’s longest flight is ready for a comeback.

Singapore Airlines said Tuesday that it will restart its nonstop service between New York and Singapore on 9 November, even as restrictions remain on travel to Singapore.

However, there will be a new U.S. home for the route when it returns. The flight – which will resume with a schedule of three weekly flights – will now operate from New York JFK instead of Newark, as it had previously. The service will depart from JFK’s Terminal 4, where Singapore’s business-class passengers have access to the Swiss lounge.

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Singapore will continue to use its 253-seat Airbus A350-900 jet on the route, a departure from the ULR “ultra-long-range” version it had flown from Newark. The aircraft is configured with 42 business class seats, and 24 in premium economy. The remaining 187 seats are economy class.

The switch to the A350-900 is likely to be curious to some given that Singapore Airlines relaunched its New York service from Newark in 2018 with great fanfare for its then-new ULR “ultra-long range” version of the A350 it initially deployed on the route. That variant of the jet was designed by Airbus specifically with such routes in mind.

It was not immediately clear if Singapore would have to limit passengers or cargo to fly the route with the A350-900, though the switch does mean fewer premium seats. Singapore’s A350-900ULRs seat just 161 passengers: 67 in business class and 94 in premium economy. There are no standard economy seats on Singapore’s ULR version of the A350.

The switch to JFK will tack an additional three miles on to the route, according to the Great Circle Mapper website, giving it a distance of 9,537 miles. Flight time is scheduled at 18 hours 40 minutes on the Singapore-bound leg and 18 hours, five minutes on the return.

Singapore Airlines said moving the flight to JFK would allow it “to better accommodate a mix of passenger and cargo traffic on its services to New York in the current operating climate”.

Regardless of the airport, the service restores a route Singapore Airlines suspended in March as the coronavirus pandemic upended travel around the globe.

The crisis hit international travel especially, a devastating blow for in Singapore – an island city-state with no domestic air travel.

But the resumption of the flight comes as airlines are trying to find a new equilibrium as a tepid recovery in travel begins to take shape.

Only at TPG: 18 thoughts for each hour of flying the world’s longest flight to Singapore

In the United States, for example, the number of passengers screened at Transportation Security Administration checkpoints topped 1 million on Sunday (18 October) for the first time in seven months. It was a welcome psychological milestone for the industry, though the figure was still 60% below levels from a year ago.

It’s against that backdrop that Singapore Airlines will restart its longest flight.

“Despite the challenging times for the airline industry, there are some early signs of optimism about a recovery in air travel,” Lee Lik Hsin, Singapore Airlines’ executive vice president – commercial, said in a statement.

The flight also returns as countries look for ways to testing and other measures as a way to ease travel restrictions that had thwarted international travel. For instance, in Singapore, the nation also is working on a so-called “travel bubble” with Hong Kong.

More: When will international travel return? A country-by-country guide to coronavirus travel restrictions

Photo by Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images.

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