Singapore Airlines is earmarked to be first customer for a special, ultra-long-range version of the Airbus A350 that will let the Singaporean airline regain its ability to fly non-stop between Singapore and Newark, gateway to New York.
SIA formerly flew the route (longest commercial route in the world) with four-engined A340-500s, configured all business class. SIA dropped it in 2013. The A340’s four engines made fuel use too expensive to be commercially viable.
Since then, the longest non-stop commercial airline route in the world has been the Qantas Sydney-Dallas route, operated by A380s. The title will next year pass to Emirates, when the Dubai-based carrier launches a Dubai to Panama City route, which is marginally longer. See: World’s longest flight: Emirates set to take Qantas crown
SIA wants the world’s longest route mantle back again and it should regain it in 2018.
The A350 is Airbus’s equivalent of the B787 Dreamliner and Airbus claims it is considerably more fuel efficient than its Boeing rival. Many observers wonder why Qantas hasn’t ordered any.
In his Plane Talking blog on Crikey.com.au, aviation reporter Ben Sandilands says Airbus could also in the coming decade make a re-engined higher weight version of the A380 which would fly a viable payload for 19-20 hours.
Sandilands observes that Emirates currently flies the 575-tonne versions of the A380 non-stop each way Dubai-Los Angeles, a route that is usually done in around 15 hours 45 minutes, while Qantas flies the earlier 569 tonnes version non-stop each way between Sydney and Dallas Fort Worth, scheduling 16 hours 50 minutes for the return flight into headwinds with a payload restriction.
Written by Peter Needham