Air Tahiti Nui Will Operate The World’s Longest Flight With A 787

As the United States shuts down its borders to European flights, airlines are getting creative. Air Tahiti Nui is one such airline hoping to keep its international flights going without entering the US. As such, the carrier has scheduled the world’s longest (and technically domestic) flight between France and French Polynesia.

Air Tahiti Nui, 787-9
Air Tahiti Nui will fly the world’s longest flight from Paris on Sunday. Photo: Olivier CABARET via Wikimedia Commons

Air Tahiti Nui flies passengers non-stop to French Polynesia

Despite the imposition of a restrictive travel ban, airlines are finding ways to continue making long-haul journeys from Europe. Those services, which would normally transit through the US, are currently suspended under orders from the White House. In order to get from Paris to Pape’ete in French Polynesia, Air Tahiti Nui has had to get creative. It’s now scheduled the world’s longest flight as a result.

At over 9,000 miles, this will be the longest non-stop and domestic flight. Photo: Great Circle Mapper

On a normal day, Air Tahiti Nui would operate a service between Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport and Tahiti International Airport with a stopover in Los Angeles. However, these aren’t normal times. With President Trump restricting the entry of European flights into the United States, Air Tahiti Nui has rethought its route. The airline has made changes to its schedule from 13th March to 19th March in response to this new regulation.

Whilst the airline has been able to reconfigure stops on some of its routes between the two cities on those days, it won’t do so on 15th March. Instead, the service between Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport and Tahiti International Airport will be non-stop. That’s 9,765 miles in 16 hours and 30 minutes.

For reference, this surpasses Singapore Airline’s Singapore-Newark service which is 9,534 miles.

Modifications for 15th March 2020

However, this was not exactly what Air Tahiti Nui had intended. Flight TN08 was due to take off from Tahiti International Airport yesterday on Friday 13th March. However, the airline was only able to take passengers to Los Angeles. Those wanting to travel to Paris are now waiting to fly on flight number TN64.

On its website, Air Tahiti Nui explains:

“Flight TN08 PPT-LAX-CDG on Friday, March 13 scheduled to depart at 11:15 p.m. is modified: Passengers travelling to Los Angeles will depart as originally scheduled at 11:15 p.m. on this flight. Passengers travelling to Paris are re-protected on flight TN64 on Sunday 15 March, scheduled to depart from Papeete at 3:00 am, during the night from Saturday to Sunday. Check-in will open at 11:30 pm. This flight will exceptionally be operated non-stop to Paris-CDG. The estimated flight time is 16 hours and 30 minutes. Its arrival at Paris-CDG is scheduled on Monday 16 March at 6.30 am.”

B 787-9, ATN
Why is this the only non-stop route on the schedule? Photo: New York-AIR via Wikimedia Commons

In the coming days, other flights to and from Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport and Tahiti International Airport will be rerouted through Canada on 14th March at 21:20 UTC and Guadeloupe on 16th, 18th, and 19th March.

There’s currently no explanation as to why Air Tahiti Nui will be flying TN64 non-stop. It’s efficient and it works, so why was the airline not able to offer the same service on its other flights?

How is this route possible?

The route is currently made possible through the use of the Boeing 787-9 aircraft. With its long-range capability, the aircraft is able to take on this exceptional task. However, it’s also aided by the benefit of tailwinds, the absence of which might not have made this journey possible.

The scheduled flights between Pape’ete and Paris over the next few days with Air Tahiti Nui are also scheduled to fly with Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner however their schedule includes stopovers. Whilst a non-stop route with this aircraft might be possible, it might not be the most preferable option.

That said, with Air Tahiti Nui’s resources it’s worth making a world record at least once in its history!

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