Airlines target even longer non-stop flight routes

Fuel-efficient aircraft are pushing the boundaries of air travel with marathon non-stop flights of up to 19 hours.

New ultra-long-haul routes, including London to Perth and Houston to Sydney, have entered service in recent months as the major airlines continue to cut the time it takes to travel the globe.

The current longest flight is a Qatar Airways service between Auckland and Doha, which takes 18 hours to cover a distance of 9,032 miles.

But that record is set to be broken later this year, when Singapore Airlines launches the world’s longest passenger service between Singapore and New York. That’s a trip of 9,521 miles with a duration of around 19 hours.

Greater fuel capacity

The record-breaking Singapore service will use the Ultra-Long Range version of the Airbus A350-900. The jetliner offers increased fuel-carrying capacity of up to 165,000 litres and a higher 280-tonne maximum take-off weight.

The extended range does not require the installation of additional fuel tanks, just an adaptation of the fuel system within the existing fuel tank.

To improve the travelling experience, the new planes will be quieter and have improved air systems, along with features such as higher ceilings, larger windows, an extra wide body and lighting designed to reduce jetlag.

Kangaroo route

The launch of new planes and a period of more affordable oil prices have put ultra-long-haul travel back on the agenda for the major airlines as they look to target the all-important corporate travel market.

According to travel data provider OAG, the number of ultra long-haul flights —over 7,000 nautical miles — has tripled to 19 in the last decade.

This includes the recent launch of the Heathrow to Perth service on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner — a journey of 17 hours that would have taken four days to complete in 1947. Now operator Qantas is reportedly looking to extend the non-stop range on the so-called Kangaroo route from London to Sydney.