Singapore Airlines has announced it is returning to a familiar city next month, with non-stop flights to New York restarting on 9th November 2020 using its 3-class Airbus A350 aircraft. The news also marks a shift from previous operation on the route, to and from Newark, with the airline this time announcing it will instead be using the city’s JFK airport.
Meanwhile the airline’s daily Airbus A380 service to New York via Frankfurt remains suspended, last operating in mid-March 2020 as the COVID-19 situation started to take hold.
New York will be the second US city served by Singapore Airlines since schedules were severely cut in March and April 2020 due to COVID-19, with the carrier in fact never totally ceasing service on its non-stop Los Angeles route.
It becomes the 35th SIA destination worldwide.
Singapore Airlines has picked a new flight number pairing for this route, rather than using the SQ22/21 designators previously used on its non-stop A350 ULR Newark flights.
Initially this new SQ24 service will operate three times per week, departing Singapore in the early hours every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday, with an early morning arrival into JFK at 7.30am the same morning.
On the return leg, SQ23 will depart from JFK at 10.30pm every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, with arrival into Changi just after 6am two days later.
From 9th November 2020
(11th November 2020 JFK-SIN)
* 2 days later
This schedule will allow the same crew and aircraft to rest at the airport for around 63 hours before returning to Singapore, in common with almost all current SIA routes where the crew require a rest period overseas.
Flight time stands at 18 hours and 5 minutes between Singapore and New York, with a longer 18 hours and 40 minutes against stronger headwinds between New York and Singapore.
The shift to JFK
Singapore Airlines has stated that its choice of JFK over Newark Airport for this service will allow it to tap in to improved traffic levels and operating economics during this COVID-19 crisis.
“Operating to JFK International Airport would allow Singapore Airlines to better accommodate a mix of passenger and cargo traffic on its services to New York in the current operating climate. SIA’s non-stop services to New York would also be supported by the growing number of transfer passengers who can now transit via Singapore’s Changi Airport.”Singapore Airlines
The airline is also lauding its newly reinstated presence as the only non-stop operator between the U.S. Northeast region and Singapore, a fact that should help it sustain good cargo demand on the city pair.
“SIA also anticipates significant cargo demand from a range of industries based in the New York metro area, including pharmaceuticals, e-commerce and technology firms. The new service will provide the only non-stop air cargo link from the U.S. Northeast to Singapore, which serves as a regional distribution hub for many major U.S.-based companies.”Singapore Airlines
The airline’s long-haul Airbus A350 aircraft have over double the cargo capacity of the usual Airbus A350 ULR previously operating to and from Newark, since the latter has a deactivated forward cargo hold.
Unfortunately the choice of JFK over Newark will see Singapore Airlines detach itself from Star Alliance connections with ‘frenemy’ United Airlines, which has a large hub at the New Jersey airport.
Presumably during these COVID-19 times, connecting traffic is seen as less vital for the airline, however this will open up the opportunity for increased interline and codeshare connections with partner JetBlue at JFK.
“Operating these flights between Singapore and New York’s JFK International Airport represent an important step in the rebuilding of our global network. Nonstop ultra-long services are the bedrock of our services to the key U.S. market. We will continue to ramp up existing services and reinstate other points as the demand for both passenger and cargo services return.”Mr. Lee Lik Hsin, Executive Vice President Commercial, Singapore Airlines
The ‘Long-haul’ Airbus A350
Somewhat surprisingly, SIA will deploy its regular 253-seat 3-class long-haul Airbus A350 aircraft to operate this three times weekly service. With normal passenger loads, only the Airbus A350 ULR aircraft is capable of operating up to 19 hours non-stop.
The long-haul models will have a significant payload (i.e. passenger) restriction to be able to fly for that long without refuelling.
That probably won’t be a big issue initially – with SIA’s Los Angeles flights averaging just 12.2% passenger loads in September 2020 (an average of around 31 passengers on each flight).
SIA’s seven A350-900 ULRs are all currently stored at Changi Airport.
The more ‘regular’ long-haul aircraft to be used for this JFK service has 42 business class seats in a 1-2-1 configuration, the airline’s popular 2013 long-haul Business Class model.
In Premium Economy, the aircraft accommodates 24 passengers with a 2-4-2 layout in a relatively intimate 3-row mini-cabin.
Finally there are 187 seats in the aircraft’s economy section, in a 3-3-3 configuration. We certainly would not envy anyone spending upwards of 19 hours in this section!
However, it does mean there will be a non-stop Economy Class option between the two cities for the first time.
These are the one-way KrisFlyer redemption rates you’ll pay by cabin on the airline’s non-stop Singapore – New York JFK flights:
Singapore ⇄ New York
If you’re looking to book a firm ticket in an eligible booking class, here’s how many miles it will then cost you to upgrade, assuming saver upgrade award availability in your proposed cabin class.
|Upgrade using KrisFlyer miles
Singapore ⇄ New York
|Upgrading to →||
|Existing booking ↓|
(Class: M, H, W)
(Class: Y, B, E)
|Premium Economy Standard
|Premium Economy Flexi
(Class: S, T)
Award space and cash fare availability have not yet been loaded on these non-stop New York flights.
A relatively short-notice resurrection of the New York route by Singapore Airlines, starting in less than three weeks from now, also marks the return of the world’s longest passenger flight.
Interesting indeed that this mammoth 19-hour journey is set to be operated by ‘regular’ long-haul A350s, almost certainly pointing towards the sort of low passenger loads SIA is expecting on these services initially.
This new service will also supplement three times weekly flights between Singapore and Los Angeles, also currently operated by regular 3-class long-haul Airbus A350s.
Currently these flights will only be of much interest to those returning home or travelling for essential reasons, given the Singapore government’s continued advice to defer all overseas travel due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Those returning to Singapore from the USA are still subject to 14-day Stay Home Notice (SHN) at a dedicated facility, so these flights certainly aren’t for regular leisure travellers yet.