October 20, 2020

World’s longest non-stop flight draws curious flyers

Date : Oct 11, 2018, 10:13 IST

Sources : timesofindia.indiatimes.com

MUMBAI: Eighteen non-stop flights per week connect India  to New York and several others hop through airports in the  Middle East and Europe, but the Indian market is still eager  for more it seems even if they fly the rather longer eastward  route. Which is probably why a number of passengers from  India, especially Mumbai, are booked on Singapore Airlines’  non-stop, 18-19 hour Singapore-Newark flight.

It’s either that or plain curiosity to know what it’s like  to be airborne for so long. For, the Singapore-Newark flight will be the world’s  longest flight when it is relaunched on October 11.

“Bookings from India number in hundreds, with Mumbai  being the lead market,” said David Lim, general manager  (India), Singapore Airlines (SIA). “We always thought in  India we would be able to sell flights to the  US West Coast, but the interest for New York surprised us. Ticket sales for this flight  were opened only about two months  ago and we expect more bookings  in the coming months,” Lim said. 

It’s likely those who booked from India were  looking forward to flying an aircraft with  no economy class seats. The brand new  A350-900ULR, which will operate the flight,  has been configured in a two-class  layout with 67 business class seats and 94  premium economy seats.

In November 2013, Singapore Airlines had  terminated its Singapore-Newark nonstop  flights after about five  years of operation as the A340-500, four-engine fuel guzzler  aircraft with only 100 business class seats  on board made it uneconomical.

The airfare and transit time are dampeners though.  On Tuesday, for instance, for travel between  Mumbai and Newark in January 2019, Air-France  offered the cheapest premium economy seat at Rs  1.12 lakh, for a 19-hour flight that transits through  Paris. Singapore Airlines’ Mumbai-Singapore –  Newark was priced at Rs 1.41 lakh for a 28-hour or  40-hour flight, depending on whether you booked  the morning or evening arrival into Singapore.

But SIA hopes to tap into the Indian market bound  for the US West Coast in the near future. “Currently,  we have only a daily, non-stop flight from Singapore  to San Francisco. Come end of   the year, we will be growing from  seven flights to 23 non-stop flights a week, and  this includes flights from Singapore to San  Francisco, Los Angeles and Newark,” he said, adding that  between October and March 2020, they would be adding one pla .. plane every two weeks.

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