World’s longest flight is a triumph over oil prices

The world’s longest commercial airplane flight took off this week, connecting Newark and Singapore via 19 no-cattle-class hours in Singapore Airlines’ brand-new Airbus A350-900 Ultra Long Range plane. At 10,400 miles, it’s farther than Qantas Airways’ Perth-to-London flight, or Qatar Airways’ Doha-to-Auckland flight.

It’s also a rebirth: In October 2013, Singapore Airlines made its last Newark-to-Singapore flight with its four-engine Airbus A340-500, which was “no match for the economic cruelties of volatile fuel prices.” Five years on, with a new two-engine plane, it’s back. Oil (and jet fuel) prices are cyclical, but technological improvement is structural, and the numbers suggest that’s what brought the flight back.

When Singapore Airlines canceled the route five years ago, kerosene prices were above $120 a barrel; it announced plans to restart two years later, when the price had dropped by 50 percent. It takes off now with prices 50 percent higher than they were in October 2015, with the possibility of going higher still. Read More

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