While it will not break any point-to-point records, routing restrictions over Russia will suddenly make a Cathay Pacific flagship route the longest flight in the world.
Facing Russian Airspace Restriction, Cathay Pacific Will Unofficially Launch World’s Longest Flight By Distance, HKG-JFK
Cathay Pacific will commence several longhaul routes in April, including nonstop service to New York JFK, which one ran three-times daily prior to the civil unrest in Hong Kong and the pandemic. As noted by Danny Lee of Bloomberg, the HKG-JFK route will become world’s longest thanks to routing restrictions required by blocked Russian airspace.
While China claims to have taken a neutral position in the War in Ukraine, Hong Kong flights will avoid Russian airspace. This creates a problem for Cathay Pacific, whose New York route is polar and spends considerable time in Russian airspace. At least historically…
But in a memo to staff, Cathay Pacific outlined its new routing between JFK and HKG, which will utilize Chinese, Central Asian, Gulf, and European airspace to complete the journey.
The new routing will mean the journey is 10,326 miles, making it the longest flight in the world (just edging out Singapore Airlines’ 9,537 mile flight from New York to Singapore). That’s over 2,000 miles more than the point-to-point routing of 8,072 miles.
Flights times will vary based upon wind conditions, but reach 16-17 hours in duration. Cathay Pacific has indicated its Airbus A350-100 aircraft can handle the mission.
Cathay Pacific is not alone in struggling with new routings which avoid Russia. For example, Japan Air Lines now uses Alaskan and Canadian space instead of Russian space for its service between Tokyo and London, which adds nearly five hours to the journey time.
New routing which avoids Russian airspace presents both logistical and practical nightmares for airlines. Think about the all the extra fuel required for these routings, further pinching already-thin margins. Cathay Pacific will soon unofficially launch world’s longest flight. While not even in the top-10 in terms of point-to-point distance, routing restrictions will (hopefully just temporarily) make it world’s longest route.
image: Cathay Pacific