NEW YORK — The world's longest commercial flight — Singapore to Newark, New Jersey — is being cancelled.
Singapore Airlines announced Wednesday that it will end its nonstop flight between Singapore and Newark, a distance of about 9,500 miles (15,300 kilometres). A slightly shorter route between Singapore and Los Angeles will also end. The two routes were flown on gas-guzzling Airbus A340-500s.
The airline found the only way to make the routes profitable was by configuring the plane with 98 business class seats that sell for about US$8,000 ($720,000) roundtrip. Other airlines operate the same plane with about 250 seats in first, business and economy classes.
The flight from Newark, right outside New York, to Singapore takes about 18 hours. The trip from Los Angeles is about 1,500 miles (2,400 kilometres) shorter but takes 18 hours and 30 minutes.
Headwinds over the Pacific Ocean slow the Los Angeles flight while the Newark flight goes over the North Pole and can fly faster. The Newark flight is the longest distance flight in the world and the Los Angeles one holds the record for duration. The flights started in 2004.
The new titles for longest flights will go to a Qantas route between Sydney and Dallas — which at about 8,500 miles (13,700 kilometers) is the longest route — and a Delta flight between Johannesburg and Atlanta, which at 17 hours will hold the title of longest duration.
Singapore Airlines is selling its five A340-500s back to Airbus as part of a deal announced Wednesday. Singapore is ordering five more Airbus A380s and another 20 A350s. The planes have a list price of US$7.5 billion but airlines often negotiate steep discounts for large orders. Deliveries are due to begin in 2017.
Singapore currently operates 19 A380-800 superjumbos. It already had firm orders in place for 20 A350s, for delivery starting in 2015.
The A340s currently used on the world's longest flights will be retired by the end of 2013. Singapore will continue to serve New York on its existing A380 route which connects in Frankfurt. Los Angeles has existing A380 service via Tokyo, which will also continue.