Rerouted service will fly 16,618km to avoid Russian airspace
A new contender for the world’s longest flight has hit the skies – but purely out of necessity.
In a bid to avoid Russian airspace, Cathay Pacific’s New York-Hong Kong service will overfly the Atlantic Ocean, UK, southern Europe and central Asia, totalling 16,618km and making it the longest commercial flight measured by distance.
The new flight path will take around 17 hours and beats the current longest flight – Singapore Airlines’ Singapore-New York route (15,349km) – by 1,269km.
Operated using an Airbus A350-1000, the flight would usually traverse Arctic and Russian airspace, but Cathay, like many international airlines, is avoiding overflying Russia due to the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
“We are always running contingency routings for potential events or scenarios,” an airline spokesperson told Bloomberg of the potential new flight path.
“The Transatlantic option relies on the facilitation of strong seasonal tailwinds at this time of the year in order for the flight time to be between 16 and 17 hours, thereby making it more favourable than the Transpacific route.”
The carrier is currently seeking permissions to overfly the airspaces of the nations involved in order to operate the new route from JFK airport to Hong Kong.
Its previous iteration of the route involved a stopover in LA, California – this new version would fly between the destinations nonstop.
It follows Air New Zealand’s announcement that it will launch one of the world’s longest flights in September 2022: a direct route from Auckland to New York City.
Covering 14,200km, it will become the fourth longest commercial flight in existence.
Qantas’ long-awaited Project Sunrise flights – direct services between Sydney and London and New York – were set to take the top spots, but plans have been pushed back due to the pandemic.
The Heathrow-Kingsford-Smith airport in Sydney hop would come in at 16,983km – more than 1,500km longer than the world’s current longest commercial route between Singapore and New York.
New York-Sydney, meanwhile, comes in just under, at 16,200km.