World's longest non-stop commercial service takes flight

Singapore Airlines' 19-hour non-stop flight to Newark took to the skies from Changi Airport on Oct 11.
Aviation enthusiasts, clad in T-shirts made to commemorate Singapore Airlines' launch of the world's longest non-stop commercial service, at yesterday's pre-flight reception in the gatehold room.
Aviation enthusiasts, clad in T-shirts made to commemorate Singapore Airlines' launch of the world's longest non-stop commercial service, at yesterday's pre-flight reception in the gatehold room.ST PHOTO: BASIL EDWARD TEO

Last night, for the first time in five years, Singapore Airlines (SIA) Flight SQ22 took to the skies from Changi Airport.

In a nod to its history, the non-stop Singapore-Newark (New Jersey) service reclaimed the same flight number that was used when SIA operated the route between 2004 and 2013.

That particular service was axed when high fuel prices, among other factors, made it unsustainable.

Oil prices are on the march again but, this time, SIA hopes to make it work with a more fuel-efficient aircraft - the Airbus 350-900ULR - which it is the first airline to fly.

SIA's two-class plane for SQ22 offers 67 seats in business class and 94 in premium economy for the 19-hour flight.

At Changi Airport Terminal 3 last night, passengers started arriving from about 9pm for check-in. Many were excited to be part of the world's longest non-stop commercial service.

Indian national Vipin Bagga, 39, flew in from New Delhi just to take the direct flight to Newark. "I have loaded my phone with lots of material to last me 19 hours," he said.

Aviation enthusiasts, clad in T-shirts made to commemorate Singapore Airlines' launch of the world's longest non-stop commercial service, at yesterday's pre-flight reception in the gatehold room.
Aviation enthusiasts, clad in T-shirts made to commemorate Singapore Airlines' launch of the world's longest non-stop commercial service, at yesterday's pre-flight reception in the gatehold room. ST PHOTO: BASIL EDWARD TEO

Singaporean software engineer Joel Kang, 30, who lives in New York, said: "It is my birthday, so this is my present to myself. If I can survive this flight, it is a great way to save some time."

In the gatehold room, SIA had prepared a pre-flight reception, complete with the cabin crew's rendition of New York, New York.

The airline's senior vice-president for sales and marketing, Mr Campbell Wilson, who was also on the inaugural flight, said: "Tonight's event is one that we have been eagerly anticipating since then (2013, when the flight was axed)."

 
 
 

SIA is offering new services to New York (Newark), San Francisco and Los Angeles and, in all, it will be operating 27 non-stop services each week from Singapore to the United States by the end of this year.

"These new flights will also provide convenient connections beyond Changi Airport, helping to boost connectivity to and through the Singapore hub," Mr Wilson said.

In October 2016, SIA started flying non-stop between Singapore and San Francisco. From Nov 2, it will fly non-stop to Los Angeles too.

Four airlines now connect Singapore to six US cities. With SIA's new non-stop services, there will be 72 weekly passenger services between Changi and the US, noted Changi Airport Group spokesman Ivan Tan.

"The demand for air travel between North America and South-east Asia is strong, and expected to stay robust in the coming years... We believe that there are further growth opportunities in the Singapore-US market," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 12, 2018, with the headline 'World's longest non-stop commercial service takes flight'. Print Edition | Subscribe