Singapore Airlines has announced that it will be resuming the longest flight in the world, a 19-hour long-haul flight between Singapore and New York.
Singapore Airlines was founded in 1937 as Malayan Airways, by the British Imperial Airways, Straits Steamship Company, and Ocean Steamship Company. Malayan Airways was inactive for approximately 10 years. Its first flight was in May 1949 from Singapore Kallang Airport. When it first started, the airline flew to Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh, and Penang. Malayan Airways became Malaysian Airways Limited in 1963 with the formation of the Federation of Malaysia. In 1996, after Singapore cede from the Malaysian Federation, Malaysian Airways Limited became Malaysia-Singapore Airlines. It was finally incorporated as Singapore Airlines in June 1972.
The company made its first transcontinental journey from Singapore to London in 1971. Today, it has a fleet size of over 178 aircrafts and is among the top 15 carriers worldwide. It has a number of airline-related subsidiaries including the SIA Engineering Company, Singapore Airlines Cargo, SilkAir (its regional wing), and Scoot, its low-cost-regional division. Temasek Holdings owns a majority stake (56%) of the airline.
According to the International Air Transport Association, the future of commercial aviation lies in the Asia-Pacific region, where over the next 20 years, air traffic will triple to approximately 3.5 billion passengers. The region will then become the biggest market for the industry, constituting 40% of global demand. This expansion will include carriers in Mainland China, India, and Southeast Asia. China alone is expected to surpass the US as the biggest market by as early as 2022. The projected growth will leave room for the provision of almost 16,000 new planes worth over two and a half trillion USD. Read more here.
Singapore Airlines has announced that it will be resuming its 19-hour flight from Singapore's Changi Airport and to Newark Liberty Airport (New York). This 16,700 kilometre journey will be undertaken by Airbus SE’s A350-900 Ultra Long Range (ULR) aircraft. It will be the first airline company to use the A350-900 ULR.
Singapore Airlines has ordered 7 of these aircrafts, which are made from a carbon fiber lighter than the aluminium used in older models. Besides being more fuel efficient than their predecessors due to a dual engine system (most other long-distance jets have four), they also have greater fuel capacity. The new planes may soon be used for direct flights to Los Angeles, Singapore Airlines officials hinted.
Mak Swee Wah, the airline’s commercial executive vice president said that the time saved will vary from customer to customer. However, “The nonstop flight length is at least about two to three hours shorter than the one stopper, maybe even four hours,” he noted. With 161 seats (67 business and 94 premium economy), the service is chiefly marketed to businesspeople.
Singapore Air had scrapped this service in 2013, primarily because the routes were unprofitable. At the time, the airline used the four-engine A340-500, which had room for 100 business class seats and was uneconomic. The previous models had to be specially modified for the long journey and could not be used for other flights. The new aircrafts will therefore be easier to integrate into the Singapore Airlines fleet. The new A350 ULRs can fly up to 17,900 kilometres, over 2,800 kilometers more than the current limit. The ULRs will also have carrying capacity for 24,000 liters of fuel.
Once the service starts, the route will become the longest commercial flight in the world. Qatar Airways’ Doha-Auckland route currently holds that position. It will also become Southeast Asia’s only non-stop connection to the North American east coast. The shortest commercial air service in the world is currently a one-and-a-half-minute flight between the islands of Westray and Papa Westray, located north of the Scottish coast. The service is provided by Loganair.
Our assessment is that Singapore Airlines’ decision to resume the service indicates that the demand for travel between Singapore and New York may have increased. We believe that this shows that technological developments, such as the ULR aircraft, are constantly expanding the scope for new economic ventures.