Singapore Airlines Changi Airport [Image: Anchorvale, CC BY-SA 4.0 ]

US-Singapore Relations Reach New Heights with the World’s Longest Flight


The distance between Singapore and the East Coast of the United States shrank further, as the world’s longest commercial flight started its services between the Newark Liberty International Airport and Singapore’s Changi International Airport on October 11. The Singapore Airlines flight traverses a distance of approximately 9,500 miles with an estimated flight time of 18 hours and 45 minutes. Direct flights connect Singapore to west coast cities such as Los Angeles and San Francisco; however, New York will be the first east-coast city with a non-stop flight to Singapore.

Direct flights between Newark and Singapore were first offered in 2004, but were discontinued in 2013. The flight’s initial termination was attributed to the large quantity of expensive aviation fuel consumed by older aircraft. However, according to Singapore Airlines CEO, customer demand for greater connectivity between New York and Singapore motivated the airlines to relaunch a non-stop flight on this route. To retain profitability and cater to demands of the long distance, Singapore Airlines now uses the fuel efficient Airbus’ A350 ultra-long-range aircraft. As of now, only two flights, SQ22 and SQ21, operate on this route. Singapore Airlines also partnered with American wellness companyCanyon Ranch to ensure passenger safety and comfort.

Recent events such as the Singapore Summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, and the success of the Hollywood film, Crazy Rich Asians, have put a spotlight on Singapore and its relations with the United States. A former British Colony, Singapore began developing rapidly in the 1960s and became known as one of the Four Asian Tigers.

Today, Singapore is an important financial center and a close economic and political partner of the United States. In 2013, Singapore invested more than $6 million and $16 million in New Jersey and New York respectively. Singaporean investments into New York have increased in the last few years, and amounted to more than $23 million in 2017. Singapore’s trade with the East Coast also increased after Singapore and the United States signed a bilateral FTA in 2003. The International Trade Administration estimated that New Jersey’s exports to Singapore grew by $540 million dollars between 2007 and 2017. The two countries also have close people to people connections. In 2017, more than 500,000 Americans visited Singapore. The Singapore Tourism Board estimated that a majority of American travelers to Singapore took flights from New York. Direct flights to financial and tourism hubs like New York will thus foster greater American economic and cultural ties with Singapore and the rest of Southeast Asia.

Tanvi Banerjee is a research intern at the East-West Center in Washington. She is a fourth-year undergraduate student at the George Washington University studying International Affairs, with a double concentration in Asia and International Development.