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The Viability Of Ultra Longhaul Service

Fri Feb 20, 2004 8:24 am

I originally posted the following in a thread concerning the progress of the 777-200LR, but felt that it should probably be a general topic of its own.

Aside from the technical capabilities and/or limitations of the A340-500 and 777-200LR, are the two manufacturers so sure that the public will want to sit on board an aircraft for such a long time? I'm sure business travelers enjoying the comforts of EK's new first class suite, or SQ's business class space bed don't mind. But, press reports from SQ's inaugural said that despite the enhanced comfort of Executive Economy, 19 hours was far too long to spend locked onboard an aircraft. I'm wondering if SQ didn't have doubts about this themselves. Aside from favorable weight calculations, I wonder if they didn't purposely put regular economy seats on the aircraft out of just such concerns.

Other than business travelers in the front of the aircraft, I'm not sure anyone knows how folks flying economy class will react to such long flights, and whether or not there will be a sustainable market for 19 hour flights. Any thoughts folks?
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RE: The Viability Of Ultra Longhaul Service

Fri Feb 20, 2004 8:48 am

I think the number of city pairs that can sustain such a service profitably will be limited. As has been said on another thread, MAS might have a difficult time with ultra-longhauls ex KUL and I think only the most business orientated city pairs will get these services, especially given the enhanced economy that would be necessary to get people onto them and the small number of seats that can be offered compared with standard longhaul aircraft.
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RE: The Viability Of Ultra Longhaul Service

Fri Feb 20, 2004 9:00 am

Of course that is why SQ put the new executive economy on their A345s. It is specifically for that service, it will not become standard across the SQ fleet. At the same time, the A345 doesn't have a first class section. The routes for any C market aircraft are very limited. The planes are very expensive and the route pairs need to have sufficient premium traffic as only a hanful in the world do.
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RE: The Viability Of Ultra Longhaul Service

Fri Feb 20, 2004 11:51 am

There are numerous reports by publications whose reporters did not even fly the nonstop flight between LAX and SIN, yet they happily declared it too long!

The Los Angeles Times (6 Feb 2004) gave the flight extensive coverage and interview passengers getting off the plane in SIN at just after 7am . . . you will see that the sentiments are more balanced and different.

I flew on the inaugural flight from SIN to LAX and after five days, from LAX to SIN. Suffice to say that I will find it difficult struggling through a regular one-stop or one-change-of-plane service across the pond. Getting off the plane at 0650hrs on 9Feb, I looked around and did not see people struggling off like zombies. Most looked most relaxed (and many were transiting beyond SIN to Mumbai, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta). I dropped my things at home and put in a full day's work without feeling lethargic!

Ultra longhaul with good cabin amenities (especially extra legroom and seat width) is certainly my preferred choice - speaking of which, you can better exercise your choice of how much of rest and entertainment to enjoy.

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RE: The Viability Of Ultra Longhaul Service

Sat Feb 21, 2004 1:04 am

Thanks for the first-hand feedback. Although SQ used a modified configuration for their A345, EK has chosen are more conventional configuration, with regular economy seating. How do EK economy passengers feel flying 19hrs non-stop? More importantly, how much of a market really exists for this length of a flight? If the consensus is that there is a fairly small market, why would both Airbus and Boeing spend so much money developing these aircraft (A345 and 777-200LR)?
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RE: The Viability Of Ultra Longhaul Service

Sat Feb 21, 2004 1:08 am


Thanks for your insight on this! Question for you...were your flights full? Could you take a "full row" and laydown and sleep well?
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RE: The Viability Of Ultra Longhaul Service

Sat Feb 21, 2004 2:08 am

Intersting topic
In my opinion 18 hours non-stop are a lot of hours.That is not good for body and mind  Nuts even if you fly in First.
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RE: The Viability Of Ultra Longhaul Service

Sat Feb 21, 2004 2:51 am

Ultra longhaul is good. And I suspect they can keep flights full with people paying a premium.

The bigger question is if those paying the premium are the same folks who used to buy the expensive tickets on the 1-stop flights. Clearly, the airlines hope these will be NEW people -- otherwise they will be cannibalzing their regular service. Only time will tell...

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RE: The Viability Of Ultra Longhaul Service

Sat Feb 21, 2004 3:04 am

Ever since SQ launched the SIN-LAX vv...The load had been quite good with at least 3/4 full in both classes. I think there's market for these ULR flights in SIN.
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RE: The Viability Of Ultra Longhaul Service

Sat Feb 21, 2004 3:12 am

Anyone who says ultra longhaul is tiring has never flown an ultra longhaul journey broken up in the middle by having to get off a plane (often dragging handluggage too), sitting for an hour in a plastic chair at 3 in the morning in some transit lounge, then having to go through an Xray machine, sit in a departure lounge and struggle back onto the plane.

In what way does this make a journey more relaxing? When you can save a few hours off the journey time and just read / eat / watch movie / sleep / read / sleep / eat / fill in landing card?

If transit stops were any good, people would still demand a stopover in Anchorage en route to Tokyo, or in the Persian Gulf en route from Europe to SE Asia. The fact that the moment the 747-400 came along these stops ended is proof that landing in Taiwan for an hour between California and Asia does nothing for the passenger experience.

I used to prefer stopping flights for the extra takeoffs and landings but it's too much exhausting bullshit to make it worthwhile. And I love flying. Imagine how people who hate it feel? Oh yes, a journey that includes extra hassle and takes longer! Pass.
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RE: The Viability Of Ultra Longhaul Service

Sat Feb 21, 2004 3:14 am

Having endured 3 times basic coach on non-stop 12 hour flights between LAX and Auckland, NZ, (Qantas, UA) and not a very good sleeper on aircraft, I have to wonder about very long non-stop flights, especially on full flights. When prop aircraft ruled the skies, the flights from NYC to Europe were extremely long and often with stops. You have to question the health effects to passengers and crews, incuding blood clotting problems of passengers on such flights. Do people, especially business people, want to be so out of touch with the world for so long, unless they can get live CNN or similar broadcasts in the IFE's or be on the ground long enought to use cell or ground telephones or access e-mail. What about the stresses on flight crews, f/a's, the engines and the aircraft structure itself on these flights? I understand the convenience of these ultra flights to the passangers and the added risks that exist (landing/takeoffs especially)with 1 stop flights, but are we going too far?

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