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.