- The Washington Times - Monday, June 28, 2004

From combined dispatches

SINGAPORE — Singapore Airlines Ltd. yesterday completed the world’s longest nonstop commercial flight — an 18-hour voyage by ultra-long-range aircraft between Singapore and Newark (N.J.) Liberty International Airport, just outside New York.

The Airbus A340-500 touched down at the Newark airport at 6:41 p.m., having taken a little more than 18 hours to make the 10,310-mile journey over the North Pacific.

The route over the Arctic shaves four hours off an existing service that has a stop in Amsterdam and marks the second nonstop flying record this year by Singapore’s flag carrier.

In February, the government-controlled airline flew 16 hours between Singapore and Los Angeles, the longest nonstop flight by a commercial airline.

As Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” played in the departure lounge, the flight’s 181 passengers received a lavish send-off — including champagne and a buffet.

Until Airbus began delivering A340-500s with longer wings and bigger fuel tanks, no commercial aircraft could fly as far as Singapore to New York with a normal passenger load, although Boeing has a competing model under development.

Air New Zealand Ltd. already flies nonstop to San Francisco from Auckland, New Zealand, and to Los Angeles from Christchurch, New Zealand. Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. plans to fly nonstop everyday to New York starting Thursday, a 16-hour flight on an A340-600 aircraft.

More airlines are expected to introduce similar direct flights on key routes as longer-range aircraft become available, said Don Birch, president of Abacus International Pte., Asia’s largest travel and airline-ticket sales agent.

Business-class seats sell for $5,363, compared with $1,200 for an executive economy class ticket — the same as past ticket prices — for a limited period, a Singapore Airlines spokeswoman said. They are expected to be 5 percent to 10 percent higher when the promotion ends.

The airline said it will cease the Singapore-New York service with the Amsterdam stopover.

• Staff writer Amy Doolittle contributed to this story from Washington.

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