Fuel Costs Ground Extended Flights

Too pricey to keep 'flying tankers' in the air

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 8, 2008 4:52 AM CDT

(Newser) – Super-long flights were hailed as the future of aviation only a few years ago, but the soaring price of fuel has grounded those plans, reports the Wall Street Journal. Airlines are delaying or canceling intercontinental routes as the cost of keeping "flying tankers" in the air for over 12 hours stops making economic sense.

Orders have dropped for planes like the Boeing 777 and Airbus 340, capable of making globe-spanning flights. Airline chiefs say super-long flights still have a future, but they are finding fewer passengers willing to pay big premiums for the ease of flying non-stop. Singapore Airlines is keeping the world's longest flight—18 hours from Singapore to New York—going for now, but without an economy class.

A Cathay Pacific Airbus A340  taxis back to a gate at Vancouver International Airport , Friday, Dec. 14, 2007.
A Cathay Pacific Airbus A340 taxis back to a gate at Vancouver International Airport , Friday, Dec. 14, 2007.   (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Richard Lam)
Empty seats in the Economy Class of an Airbus A340-600 of German airline Lufthansa are seen in a file photo.
Empty seats in the Economy Class of an Airbus A340-600 of German airline Lufthansa are seen in a file photo.   (AP Photo/Uwe Lein)
A United Airlines Boeing 777 is shown in an undated photo.
A United Airlines Boeing 777 is shown in an undated photo.   (AP Photo/United Air Lines)
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