Travel The world's longest flight just quietly touched down in New York. Here's why you haven't heard anything about it.

01:00  11 november  2020
01:00  11 november  2020 Source:   businessinsider.com

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a large passenger jet flying through a cloudy blue sky: Singapore Airlines launched the inaugural flight of the new Singapore-New York route on Monday. Robert Smith/MI News/NurPhoto/Getty © Provided by Business Insider Singapore Airlines launched the inaugural flight of the new Singapore-New York route on Monday. Robert Smith/MI News/NurPhoto/Getty
  • Singapore Airlines just inaugurated a new world's longest flight as it flew the first non-stop flight from Singapore to New York on Monday.
  • The 10,324-mile flight took just under 17 hours, according to Flightradar 24, with the first return flight scheduled for Wednesday.
  • The new route comes at a peculiar time for aviation with Singapore Airlines launching this route before restarting flights to Newark, the former world's longest, and is holding off on the celebrations for now.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

In the early hours of Monday morning, a Singapore Airlines aircraft made history as it departed Singapore on a 10,000-mile non-stop journey bound for New York City. The Singaporean flag carrier had launched its newest route, one that would top the list of the world's longest.

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The inaugural flight, SQ24, departed Singapore Changi Airport at 2:38 a.m., according to Flightradar 24, heading northeast through the South China Sea, passing between Taiwan and the Philippines before skirting Tokyo just off the coast of Japan. The nighttime flight then saw land again over Alaska before completing its arc over the Yukon and heading down towards New York via Canada.

Arriving at John F. Kennedy International Airport 10,324 miles and just under 17 hours later, the inaugural flight of the airline's newest route between Singapore and New York had opened a new era for travel between the US and Asia.

New Yorkers would now be able to fly non-stop to the island nation without having to venture outside of their own state and the US would get an additional link to one of its most important markets for trade and commerce in a pandemic that saw airlines retreat from the region in its onset.

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Formerly, New Yorkers looking to depart from their hometown international airport had to stopover in Frankfurt, Germany when traveling to Singapore if flying on the carrier, and vice versa for Singaporeans. If flying another airline, a connection would be required in any number of Asian or European cities that act as a layover point for journeys to the Far East.

Singapore Airlines had only announced this route on October 20, less than three weeks before its launch. In 2018, non-stop flights between Singapore and Newark were announced five months ahead of the launch, more than enough time for travelers to plan their trips, and the launch itself was highly celebrated with media coverage.

This go-round will be the complete opposite.

A quiet launch for what would normally be a celebration

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The goal of any flag carrier is to connect its home country with distant lands and Singapore Airlines has a more difficult job than most in doing so, especially when it comes to connecting Singapore with the US. The closest American city served by the airline before the pandemic is Seattle, over 8,000 miles away, which was just one of four cities the airline served with non-stop service prior to March.

Flying so many ultra-long-haul flights to the US has made Singapore Airlines an expert in that realm and this is the second time in as many years that Singapore Airlines has launched a new world's longest flight. The first was in 2018 when the flag carrier re-launched non-stop flights between Singapore and Newark flights, the famed SQ21, and SQ22 on which Business Insider flew in both premium economy and business class.

And even with the news headlines screaming "new world's longest flight," Singapore Airlines stressed to Business Insider that this flight, in their book, was not overtaking the flights to Newark.

The reason: the flight from Newark to Singapore was scheduled by the airline at 18 hours and 45 minutes compared to the New York to Singapore's non-stop scheduled length of 18 hours and 40 minutes. That's despite a great circle route distance difference of two nautical miles in New York's favor.

So while aviation is celebrating the launch of a new route during a pandemic that seen innumerable route cuts, furloughs, and contractions in the industry, Singapore Airlines won't be touting the new achievement or giving it the title of longest flight. That's largely because the route will benefit Singapore Airlines' cargo network more so than passengers, in the short-term.

"SIA also anticipates significant cargo demand from a range of industries based in the New York metro area, including pharmaceuticals, e-commerce and technology firms," the airline said in its statement announcing the route.

New York is home to a large cargo facility for the airline where goods can be shipped directly to and from Singapore on what is now the only non-stop flight to the region. And as cargo yields a premium during the pandemic, Singapore Airlines is betting on the flight being a success, even with fewer filled seats in the passenger cabin above.

The future of the route

Singapore Airlines hasn't yet determined what will become of the new route to the Big Apple once the pandemic ends and travel becomes feasible again. As for now, flights will continue to operate on a three-times-weekly basis departing Singapore on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays, and the return flights from New York will then depart on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

It's expected to be a lighter than normal load for the popular route as Americans who aren't residents of Singapore or don't have permission from the government can't enter the Asian country yet for tourism or business. Even those who can enter the country will be required to quarantine for two weeks.

Travelers flying to and from points beyond Singapore, however, can still take the flight in either direction, as long as they depart from a city that's been approved for transit by the airline.

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