SIA to cease non-stop flying to Los Angeles and New York

It was a bold move a few years back when oil was cheaper than today. But in an age of costly fuel the two airlines which pioneered ultra long-haul flying between SE Asia and the USA, namely SIA and Thai Airways, have found these routes increasingly uneconomic to operate.

Thai has already axed its non-stop flights to Los Angeles and New York (see In Focus, April 2012) and now SIA will follow towards the end of next year. 

Both carriers operated four-engined A340-500s which are the only plane type capable of operating these routes where the non-stop flying time could be between 16 and 19 hours.

Why were the routes unprofitable? Firstly the A340-500 was unable to carry a lot of passengers on these routes (because of weight limitations) but also when operating a very long flight the A340-500 must be filled to the brim with kerosene. 

So in the early stages of the mission, the plane is burning fuel just to carry fuel. That is why Air France’s ex-chief executive, Pierre-Henri Gourgeon, once described these aircraft as “flying fuel tankers with few people on board.”

Airbus will acquire SIA’s five A340-500s later in 2013 as part of an order, announced today, whereby the Singapore carrier will buy a further five A380s and 20 A350s from the European aircraft manufacturer.

Quoted on SIA’s CEO Goh Choon Phong confirmed the ending of these non-stop US services.

“Although [it is] disappointing that we will be halting these services, we remain very committed to the US market. Over the past two years we have increased capacity to both Los Angeles and New York by deploying on A380 superjumbos on flights via Tokyo and Frankfurt.”

The non-stop flights will be missed by global business travellers. They shaved hours off the flying time between SE Asia and the US and so made a long trip more palatable.

For more information visit

Report by Alex McWhirter

Share with your friends


Share your thoughts

  • I understand very well the reasons but for those of us who flew regularly this route to the USA – 100pax in Luxury Business for 19 hours its a real shame.

  • Great shame – the best flight I have ever been on (apart from Concorde) was SIN-LAX.

    It took about 161/2 hours on their A340-500 business class only service. The SQ standard of service is usually high but with only 70 passengers onboard and about 10 cabin crew it was amazing.

    Unfortunately it comes as no surprise with current fuel costs but I will certainly try and do it again before it disappears and would ancourage others to do the same!

  • Yes very sad to see these two services going – so popular with frequent travellers on those routes and very important to investment banking markets. It had a similar “club” culture like what existed with the concorde. Unfortunately with fuel costs remaining so high, and the cost of having to maintain a specific aircraft type and crew, as well as no longer being able to offer a single premium fare for the route, and now having to offer competitive pricing – it is non longer economically viable. It will be interesting to see how SQ replace those two nonstop flights

  • Wonder if it would have been more efficient to use B777-200LR for these trips instead. Though this aircraft have even longer range and able to take in full load of at least 250 pax in all F/C/Y classes.

  • Thank you for the feedback.

    We would like to clarify some of the points raised so far:

    * Right now SIA cannot confirm exactly when the non-stop services end. All it will say is that the “A340-500s will be removed from service by the fourth quarter of 2013.”

    * The fact that bookings remain open for non-stop flights as far ahead as October 2013 is no guarantee that these services will actually operate. A year is a long time in the airline business and carriers are known to tweak schedules and make amendments nearer the time.

    * SIA already operates direct flights to both cities using A380s. The Singapore-Los Angeles service goes via Tokyo while the Singapore-New York service touches down in Frankfurt. Readers may remember that SIA’s latest A380s are being reconfigured with a larger business class area so the carrier may well use these existing services to take up the slack when the non-stoppers cease.

    * The four-engined A340-500 is currently the only aircraft capable of flying such a long and tricky route.

    Alex McWhirter

Post a comment

13 + fourteen =