ON THURSDAY 11th October Singapore Airlines reinstates the world’s longest flight, a 15,329km, 19-hour schlep between Singapore and New York which it grounded in 2013. Super-long-haul routes are fashionable again. Where previously SIA used a four-engine, gas-gulping Airbus A340, now it will fly twin-engine Airbus A350-900s that take passengers around 30% farther per litre of fuel. Such advances make the unthinkable thinkable. Qantas may soon fly direct from Sydney to London, some 17,000km.
Some fliers will recoil at these endurance tests—at least those in cattle-class cabins where knees are squished and booze rationed. But super-long-haul services are not aimed at such wretches. Airlines make little money from the sardines at the back; they profit from business-class travellers for whom time is money. Non-stop flights are also handy for snaffling customers from Gulf “superconnectors”, whose small domestic markets mean they rely on passengers connecting via their hubs. That model is now up in the air.
This article is from our Graphic detail blog.