Though it already operates some of the longest flights in the world, Singapore Airlines has been waiting to take delivery of the new Airbus A350-900ULR (ultra-long-range) in order to relaunch one of its flagship routes: non-stop from New York to Singapore.
The airline has just officially confirmed that it will begin flying again between Newark International Airport (EWR) and its hub in Singapore (SIN) starting in October after it begins taking delivery of the new jets in September. The flight marks a return to the market since Singapore last operated this non-stop in 2013 using an all-business class Airbus A340-500 that was eventually canceled thanks to the high operating costs.
Singapore Airlines will initially operate the route three times a week, departing Newark on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday beginning October 12. When it receives a second A350-900ULR, the route will become daily, starting on October 19.
Initially, flight SQ 21 will depart Newark at 10:45 am and arrive in Singapore at 5:30pm the following day. Flight SQ 22 will depart Singapore at 11:35 pm and arrive in Newark at 6:00 am the following morning. The schedule will change October 28 due to daylight savings time, departing Newark at 9:45 am and arriving in Singapore at 5:15pm, then departing Singapore at 12:40 am and arriving back in Newark at 5:30 am.
All told, the flight will cover a distance of approximately 9,500 miles, far outstripping the world’s current longest flight by distance, Qatar Airways’ route from Doha to Auckland, which clocks in at 9,032 miles. Travel time will last up to 18 hours, 45 minutes. The long-haul route is a sign of things to come as Airbus and Boeing double down on next-generation jets like the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and the A350, aiming for higher fuel efficiency that will enable flights stretching above 20 hours.
In announcing the resumption of the route, the airline’s CEO, Goh Choon Phong, said, “Singapore Airlines has always taken pride in pushing the boundaries to provide the best possible travel convenience for our customers, and we are pleased to be leading the way with these new non-stop flights using the latest technology, the ultra-long-range Airbus A350-900ULR. The flights will offer our customers the fastest way to travel between the two cities – in great comfort, together with Singapore Airlines’ legendary service – and will help boost connectivity to and through the Singapore hub.”
Like the Boeing 787-1000, Singapore Airlines is the launch customer of Airbus’s A350-900ULR and has seven of the aircraft on firm order, though it already has 21 of the shorter-range A350-900s in its fleet. Singapore expects delivery of the first A350-900ULR in September, with all seven jets delivered by the end of 2018.
The A350-900ULR version that the airline will use to operate the new route is quite special in that it does not have an economy section. Rather, the aircraft is configured with 67 seats in business class and 94 in premium economy. After all, who would want to endure nearly an entire day in the air cramped up in a regular coach seat? The airline is betting that customers from the east coast will want to pay a premium for the convenience of taking a single non-stop to Southeast Asia rather than having to fly through another hub en route.
The airline currently flies to New York JFK via Fankfurt, Houston via Manchester, Los Angeles via Seoul and Tokyo and San Francisco via Hong Kong as well as non-stop. Singapore Airlines has also said it intends to relaunch its non-stop route from Singapore to Los Angeles, and will presumably do so with further A350-900ULR aircraft once the jets begin appearing in the airline’s fleet.
Tickets for the new flights between Newark and Singapore should go on sale at some point today.