Sunday, February 12, 2017

Boeing 777 Flies Seven Of The World's Ten Longest Routes, But Airlines Eye New 787 and A350 Routes

A new list of the world’s ten longest commercial airline routes shows the Boeing 777 maintains its strong position as the world’s favorite long distance aircraft.

The 777 flies seven of the routes and the Airbus A380 flies two. Two newer aircraft, the Boeing 787 and the Airbus A 350, both fly the 10th route between San Francisco and Singapore. United began service in June 2016 and Singapore followed in October.

OAG compiled the list for Forbes.

Looking ahead, Singapore Airlines has said it will begin a 9,534-mile, eighteen-and-a-half hour Singapore-Newark flight in 2018, using an Airbus A350-900ULR. Singapore previously operated the route with a four engine-A340, but discontinued it in 2013.

Also, in 2018, Qantas plans to operate a 9,009 mile, 17-hour Perth-London flight with a Boeing 787-900.

John Grant, OAG senior analyst, said the two new aircraft types will allow airlines to open more ultra-long-distance routes because the lightweight planes are smaller than their widebody predecessors but still can carry sufficient fuel for the trips.

“As more extended range {second generation} A350s and 787 come to production and are delivered in the next few airlines, it will allow airlines to operate {more flights} in these sectors,” Grant said.

“The industry standard 777 is and has been capable of flying these ranges for some time, but the newer technology aircraft have lower operating costs,” he said.

Grant foresees that as airlines begin to operate more ultra-long flights, they may add more first class and business class seating – not simply to boost per-seat revenue, but also to reduce the number of passengers and the weight of the aircraft.

“The standard configuration of an aircraft with a large proportion of economy class seats and more passengers on board adds weight, which impacts range,” he said.

Interestingly, United allocates block time of 17 hours and 25 minutes for the San Francisco-Singapore flight, while Singapore Airlines allocates ten minutes less. Grant said he cannot explain the discrepancy. “United is a bit more cautious on block time than Singapore,” he said.

As for the recent controversy over the world’s longest flight, Grant is unequivocal in stating that the honor belongs to Qatar Airways, which began operation of a Doha-Auckland flight on Feb. 5. The flight covers 9,026 statute miles.

“I’ve become an advocate of the flat world,” Grant said, referring to his preference to classify the world’s longest flights in terms of the distance between two points rather than the flight path selected by the airline.

The startup of the Qatar flight brought comparisons with Air India’s Delhi-San Francisco flight, cited as the world’s longest because Air India elects to fly a circuitous 9,389-mile trans-Pacific route that avoids headwinds and takes less two hours less than a more direct route.

Because the two cities are separated by 8,264 miles, Delhi-San Francisco does not make OAG’s top ten list. “In my flat world, you would be flying east to west,” Grant said. “But they are flying a polar routing, taking the aircraft over the North Pole."

(Ted Reed - Forbes)

No comments: