Singapore Airlines Ltd. is in talks with Airbus Group SE and Boeing Co. to revive its non-stop flights to the United States, Bloomberg reported Wednesday. Singapore Airlines CEO Goh Choon Phong said that the move would help the company fill a gap in its network that was being exploited by rivals like Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. and Qantas Airways Ltd.
After the company discontinued its 19-hour non-stop service from Singapore to New York in 2013 because it was not profitable, the trip became five hours longer for its passengers.
Singapore Airlines currently flies to four American cities -- Los Angeles and San Francisco via Hong Kong, Seoul and Tokyo; and New York via Frankfurt; and Houston with a stop in Moscow.
"We, of course, want it as soon as possible," Goh said in an interview with Bloomberg, adding: "There isn’t really a commercially viable aircraft that could fly nonstop."
Two years back, the carrier employed a four-engine 100-seat Airbus A340-500 for non-stop flights from Los Angeles and Newark in New Jersey to Singapore, but the route proved to be unsustainable. "Although disappointing that we will be halting these services, we remain very committed to the US market," Goh said in 2012, announcing the discontinuation of the service. "We will also continue to explore additional options to enhance our US services."
Richard Aboulafia, an analyst at Fairfax, Virginia-based aerospace consultant Teal Group, said, according to Bloomberg, that using a twin-engine plane would be more economical as they are made for the long haul.
"It’s really a question of economics," Aboulafia reportedly said, adding: "The last generation of very long-range jets, particularly the A340-500, was simply not efficient, which is what killed Singapore’s Newark service."
At the time, the Newark service was about 16,700 kilometers (9,941 miles) long and the Los Angeles flight was more than 14,000 kilometers.
Airbus’ A350, which signed a deal with Qatar Airways in January, can travel up to 8,200 nautical miles, while Boeing’s 777-200LRs can travel 8,625 nautical miles. However, currently the topmost choice among wide-body jetliners remains the upgraded version 777X, which is not in operation yet but can fly over 9,300 nautical miles. As of now, Qantas Airways’ flight from Sydney to Dallas Fort Worth with the Airbus A-380 jumbo is the longest non-stop flight to the U.S.
Singapore Airlines is also trying to increase partnerships with other airlines like Air New Zealand Ltd. and Virgin Australia Holdings Ltd. to get more destinations on its plate. It is planning to develop hubs outside Singapore to get a wider network connectivity.
The company's planes will be empowered with new technology that would allow its flights to make the non-stop journey between Singapore and the U.S. "We’re among the earlier adopters of new technology," Goh reportedly said, adding: "That certainly puts us in a very good position to compete and also to take advantage of those technology to serve new points."