By 2018, Singapore Air hopes to have resurrected its non-stop flights to the US, reclaiming the record for the world’s longest airline flights – and it’s expected to be business-class only.

The end of the long haul

Back in 2013, Singapore Air landed its final 19-hour journey from New York to Singapore after a nine-year run.  At nearly £7,000 a ticket, the 100-seat service was a pricey, yet luxurious option for business travellers. But when the non-stop service was withdrawn, it meant an extra five hours in stopovers for anyone trying to make the same trip.

At the time, the flights were considered economically non-viable, and the airline had no choice but to pull the plug.  But now, a new design from Airbus could let high-flyers travel in style and comfort, while cutting the airline’s fuel bill.

More space, less fuel

Airbus Group is currently hard at work, modifying a version of its A350 plane that could help Singapore Air shave precious hours off the journeys of busy executives.  By making adjustments to the cabin layout – which would make it less dense than the usual 325 seats and three classes of the A350-900 – Airbus hopes that their modified plane will be able to complete the 10,000-mile trip using 25% less fuel than before.

But they might not be alone in bidding for Singapore Air’s business.  There’s some speculation that US manufacturers Boeing could also make proposals, offering a version of their Dreamliner series to compete for the longest non-stop flight in the world.

Business-class only

‘I can’t go into details on the types of layouts they’re looking at,’ Kiran Rao, Airbus’s executive vice president for strategy and marketing, told Bloomberg, ‘but it would be a premium service’.

And that makes perfect sense.  Any plane that loses weight through a less dense cabin layout will need to charge higher prices for fewer tickets. Of course, busy high-flyers who can’t afford to lose five hours to a stopover are exactly the sort of customers who can afford a premium service.

With a lower-density layout, Singapore Air might be planning trips with far fewer passengers than the original 100. But the reduced fuel burn could allow them to run more flights to make up for reduced passenger numbers. We’ll have to wait and see how this more energy-efficient design fits into the airline’s business plans.

Would you like to see more long-haul business trips without the stopovers?  Or would you prefer a break to stretch your legs and catch up on your phone calls? Let us know on LinkedIn or Google+.

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