The world’s longest nonstop commercial flight ended without fanfare Monday after Singapore Airlines (SIA) flew its last nearly 19-hour service from New York.
Flight SQ 21 landed early Monday in Changi Airport, bringing an end to a nine-year run. A direct service to Los Angeles has also been cancelled as part of a fleet renewal.
Analysts said the rise in fuel prices since 2004, when the 15,335-kilometre (9,529-mile)service was launched to cater to business travellers, made it economically unsustainable.
The cancellation of the service was first announced a year ago. Five Airbus A340-500s used by SIA for the service to New York — through neighbouring Newark — are being swapped for Airbus A380 superjumbos, a larger but more fuel-efficient model that is not designed for such distances.
The 100-seat, all business-class service to New York was pricey but passengers flew in comfort and saved hours of travel time by not having to make stopovers. A Singapore travel agency said the last list price for the New York direct service was Sg$14,000 ($11,180).
Ultra long-range routes have proven to be uneconomical, making it unlikely there will be a return of flights over 17 hours, which can only be flown by the niche A340-500 or (Boeing) 777-200LR.
Three routes now share the distinction of being the longest in terms of duration — Dubai-Houston, Dubai-Los Angeles and Johannesburg-Atlanta — at 16 hours and 20 minutes.
In terms of distance, a Qantas flight from Sydney to Dallas will be the longest, but tailwinds enable it to be completed in 15 hours and 20 minutes.