At this time of year, a Cathay Pacific flight from Hong Kong to New York is genuinely an around-the-world odyssey, with the Airbus A350 crossing both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.
With Europe’s airspace in chaos, due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the odyssey is being developed, with the recovery leg about to become the world’s longest commercial passenger flight.
Singapore Airlines is set to lose its longest flight crown
Now, the title of longest flight sits with the Singapore Airlines service from Singapore to New York at 15,349 kilometers (9,500 miles), taking on average almost 17:30 hours.
But Cathay’s route from New York to Hong Kong is longer. It will cross the Atlantic Ocean and with a modified path across Europe, clocking up around 16,618 kilometers (10,300 miles), taking between 16-17 hours.
The Hong Kong to New York flight follows a conventional track across the Pacific Ocean, crossing the US coast near Seattle and on to New York, with an average flight time of around 15:30 hours. With more substantial Atlantic tailwinds around this time of year, the return flight from New York to Hong Kong continues eastwards across the Atlantic Ocean to take benefit of the favorable jetstream.
Before the Ukraine conflict, FlightRadar24.com data shows flight CX845 departing John F. Kennedy International Airport and tracking over Greenland, the Arctic, Russia, Mongolia, and China before landing in Hong Kong.
This route has an average flight time of around fifteen and a half hours to fly the 12,990 kilometers (8,000 miles) in an Airbus A350-1000.
Ukraine and Russian airspace
Cathay is already using a modified London to Hong Kong route that avoids both Ukraine and Russian airspace. Today, CX252 tracked to the south of Ukraine and over Romania, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, and China before landing in Hong Kong.
- The exact new path from New York will become apparent when CX845, an Airbus A350-1000, departs JFK on April 3, returning to Cathay Pacific’s home base in Hong Kong. Given that the favorable winds are already diminishing, Cathay may not hold the record for very long.
Cathay Pacific passengers traveling tomorrow will use partner flights from JFK to San Francisco International Airport and then connect to one of Cathay Pacific’s multiple flights to Hong Kong across the Pacific.
With the cost of jet fuel soaring, Cathay will closely monitor the flight path and analyze data to find the balance between the Pacific and Atlantic crossings.
Having reported losses totaling HK$27 billion ($3.4 billion) over the last two years and carrying just 717,000 passengers in 2021, the airline doesn’t need to be running at a loss on any flight.
- More international airlines add flights to India
- India signs air bubble deal with Saudi Arabia; flights to start from January
- IndiGo airline announces to begins Indore-Jammu direct flight services
On March 21, the HK Government declared that from April 1, it was lifting flight bans from nine countries, including the US, Australia, Canada, France, India, and the UK, which is good news for Cathay Pacific.
However, only completely vaccinated Hong Kong residents will be allowed to board the flights. They will require proof of a negative PCR and quarantine for seven days on arrival.
Foreign nationals will have to wait, but hopefully, repatriating residents will lift Cathay Pacific’s load factors from the measly 31% it reported for 2021. Is one of the last bastions of a COVID-zero strategy slowly opening the door?