People walk past a Singapore Airlines ticketing counter at Changi Airport in Singapore May 7, 2014.
People walk past a Singapore Airlines ticketing counter at Changi Airport in Singapore May 7, 2014. Operating losses at Singapore Airlines Ltd widened in its fourth-quarter as Asia's biggest airline cited persistently weak pricing power and flagged a challenging outlook. Picture taken May 7, 2014. Reuters/Edgar Su

Singapore Airlines is planning to regain the prestigious title of flying the longest flights in the world by reviving its Singapore - New York and Singapore - Los Angeles flights in 2018. It scrapped these direct flights in 2013, citing the burden of soaring fuel costs and high pressure on its A340-500 fleet.

In the new scheme of things, the revived services will have more attractions and amenities. At 15,344 kilometers, the 18 to 19 hours New York flight will be the longest non-stop commercial route.

“Our previous non-stop services were widely acknowledged favorites among business travelers, and the resumption of this service, enabled by this new aircraft, underscores our commitment to the U.S. market,” said Singapore Airlines spokesman James Boyd, reported Bloomberg.

New planes from Airbus

The airline said on Oct.13 that it would resume the routes in 2018 on a new Airbus A350-900 ULR. The airline has already placed orders for a few long range jets from Airbus to service the American routes.

“Our customers have been asking us to re-start non-stop Singapore-US flights and we are pleased that Airbus was able to offer the right aircraft to do so in a commercially viable manner,” said Goh Choon Phong, chief executive of Singapore Airlines.

Fabrice Bregier, Airbus president and chief executive, also said A350 is the perfect, flexible platform for long haul operations and can offer unrivalled operating economics in the longest routes, reported Derby Telegraph.

The positive economics for renewing the direct flights to New York are jet fuel turning cheaper in 2018 than it was in 2013, and the new design of the Airbus aircraft, which makes use of composite materials to make the aircraft lighter and leaner for less fuel consumption.

New business cabin

In the revamped service, Singapore Airlines may add a new business cabin to broaden the number of seats and offer new amenities too. Previously, the A340 flights had only 100 business class seats, which led to consistently high air fares on the route.

For business travellers, a renewed direct service will help in saving every possible minute. The burden from fuel stops often adds travellers’ flying time. As a result, many corporate travellers headed to Southeast Asia have taken the option of using competitor Cathay Pacific Airways, which operates daily non-stop flights to Hong Kong from New York and Los Angeles. It is more feasible to reach Singapore and any other city in the region from Hong Kong through a short flight.

The direct service will also give the airlines a competitive advantage of not having to route its U.S. flights to Singapore through Frankfurt, Moscow, Seoul and Tokyo.

For Singapore Airlines, it seems, the imperative of reviving the world’s longest flight is more than a public relations exercise -- it makes immense business sense as the routes are important for high end corporate travelers, who are ready to splurge for long haul service.

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