By the time you read this sipping your morning tea, India’s longest direct flight would be in the air. Air India launched its new service at 2.25 am on December 2, flying passengers from Delhi to San Francisco on its Boeing 777-200 long-range aircraft. One of the longest air journeys in the world, the flight will cover 12,400 km in 16 hours and 55 minutes.
It may seem ludicrous to be locked inside an aircraft for close to 17 hours, but with improving in-flight comfort, fliers now prefer non-stop flights to save time. That is why Air India is not alone. Customer demand prompted Singapore Airlines to recently announce plans to revive its 19-hour flight to Newark (a major departure point for the New York City market) after it stopped the service in 2013.
“We discontinued the all Business Class, A345 direct flights to Los Angeles and New York in 2013, and replaced it with stop-over flights on our Airbus A380 (with larger business class cabin), which were more commercially viable,” says David Lau, General Manager – India, Singapore Airlines. “(But) new aircraft technologies, better fuel efficiency, as well as the continuous effort to meet customer expectations prompted us to restart direct flights,” adds Lau. Singapore Airlines has ordered seven Airbus A350 ultra-long range aircrafts to launch more such flights. Though this flight will take two years to restart, there are others coming up sooner. From February 2016, Emirates Airline will start flights from Dubai to Panama City in Florida, United States. The flight will take 17 hours and 35 minutes, and will be the first among many such long routes that the Dubai-based airline is planning.