Air Tahiti Nui Flies The World’s Longest Domestic Flight At 16 Hours!

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Air Tahiti Nui has successfully completed the world’s longest flight using a Dreamliner. It’s also the world’s longest flight overall, and the longest domestic flight ever to have taken place. The flight traveled nonstop between Pape’ete in Tahiti and Paris in France, covering 15,715 km in 15 hours and 45 minutes.

Air Tahiti Nui Dreamliner 787-9
Air Tahiti Nui has set a new record for the longest flight. Photo: Getty

The world’s longest Dreamliner flight

With challenges to flight paths due to restrictions imposed around the world, airlines are needing to apply some out of the box thinking in order to operate some of their services. One such creative solution was witnessed yesterday from one of the world’s smallest but relatively well-known airlines – Air Tahiti Nui.

The French Polynesian airline usually operates a flight between Pape’ete and Paris with a stopover in Los Angeles on route. However, with the travel ban affecting French travelers, the stop in LA was off the table. As such, the airline decided to operate the flight nonstop on March 15th, flying a planeload of passengers direct to Paris from its home.

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The long route between PPT and CDG. Image: FlightRadar24

At a distance of 15,715 km, the flight overtakes the current world’s longest regular flight – Singapore Airline’s service between Singapore and Newark, which comes in at 15,343 km. Oddly enough, the flight is technically a domestic flight, so has also taken the crown as the world’s longest domestic flight; a record which is unlikely to be broken any time soon.

Details of the flight

Air Tahiti’s Boeing 787 Dreamliner was scheduled to depart from Pape’ete at 03:00 local time on the 15th March. It departed just about on time, pushing back at 03:10. Flight number TN64 was operated by F-OTOA, a six month old Boeing 787-9 that was delivered to the airline on the 10th August 2019.

The flight, according to FlightRadar24 took 15 hours and 45 minutes to complete, and covered a distance of 15,715 km. It touched down in Paris at 05:54 this morning, almost half an hour ahead of its scheduled arrival time of 06:20.

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Boeing 787-9 Paris Air Show
The 787 has never been flown so far. Photo: Air Tahiti Nui

With the success of this flight, Air Tahiti takes the crown for the world’s longest flight, the longest flight using a Dreamliner and, of course, the world’s longest domestic flight. This was made possible because Tahiti is one of the French Polynesian islands, which are an overseas collectivity of the French Republic.

It’s a huge accolade for the tiny airline headquartered in the Pacific, but it’s also an exceptional trip. The airline cannot make the trip back in one go, and as such will be stopping in Vancouver, Canada for refueling. It has said it is not planning any additional nonstop flights in the coming days and weeks, with both Vancouver and Guadeloupe planned as alternative fuel stop locations.

Were modifications required?

The published range of a Boeing 787-9 is just 14,800 km. This is almost 1,000 km short of the required distance for this flight. For Singapore Airlines’ regularly scheduled SIN-EWR service, the airline uses a specially modified ultra-long-range A350, with a premium heavy seating configuration to lower the carried weight.

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Air Tahiti didn’t have the time to modify its Dreamliner for the flight, or to add additional fuel carrying capacity. However, it’s likely that the flight was achievable due to widespread low demand for travel right now.

Air Tahiti Nui
Low demand likely enabled Air Tahiti Nui to operate the flight outside of the published range of the 787-9. Photo: Air Tahiti Nui

While we don’t have figures from Air Tahiti for the load factors on this flight, other airlines are reporting loads as low as 20 – 30% on international routes. As such, the underloaded Dreamliner could have easily made the trip, thanks to the reduced weight on board.

What do you think of Air Tahiti’s ultra-long-haul flight? Let us know in the comments.

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