GlobalData: More Ultra-Long-Haul Flights on the Horizon

Singapore Airlines’ landmark New York flight will lead to more ultra-long-haul routes opening up but we’re a long way off them becoming the norm, says GlobalData. Singapore Airlines completed the world's longest non-stop commercial flight landing in New York, after a flight of more than 9,300 miles in 17 hours and 52 minutes.

Sara Grady, Head of Tourism at GlobalData, a data and analytics company, offered her view on what this means for the sector:

‘‘The past year has seen a wave of ultra-long-haul flights open up, transporting passengers across the globe in record time and comfort. This is driven by greater technological efficiencies, which have made it possible to travel such long distances without fuel stops, and advances that have helped lessen the physiological impacts on the human body.

‘‘But of course, this would be nothing without market demand. That Singapore Airlines does not offer an economy seat is telling, and hints at the underlying truth that such journeys will, in the short to mid-term at least, be reserved for the wealthiest of travelers. 

‘‘It is currently around a third cheaper to travel from London to Perth with a stopover than it is to fly direct. With a time saving of only a couple of hours in some cases, the benefits of a direct connection will only be justifiable to the business traveler or the elite holidaymaker.”

It isn’t therefore expected that the impact on the industry will be hugely significant. 

Already the industry is in a period of great change, with low cost carriers (LCCs) offering more and more and full-service carriers (FSCs) either disaggregating their tickets to compete with LCCs, or conversely enhancing their premium offering – as with Qatar’s Qsuite business class bedroom launched this time last year. So, the re-emergence of ultra-long-haul flights seems to be a natural progression of this market shift.

‘‘As technology advances and familiarity with the concept of ultra-long-haul travel reaches the mainstream we will see more and more routes open up, however we are a long way off ultra-long-haul becoming the norm.’’

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