Ha’aretz reports that casino magnate billionaire Sheldon Adelson set new records on Monday when he flew his private A340 aircraft nonstop from Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport to Honolulu.
The route, totaling 8,667 miles, clocked in at 17 hours and 40 minutes and marks the longest flight ever to have departed from Tel Aviv’s airport. In fact, it was only 157 miles short of the longest flight in the world, Emirates’ new A380 service between Dubai and Auckland.
Such a distance is a stretch for any airplane, and is only possible on an A340 because his plane was not filled with a couple hundred passengers. The A340, Airbus’ largest aircraft prior to the introduction of the A380, has been out of production for the better part of half a decade now, though it can still be experienced on many international carriers. I’ve flown the A340 twice on Iberia between JFK and Madrid. With four engines, it is extremely fuel inefficient, so airlines have been eager to replace the plane with either larger frames (the A380) or, in most cases, lighter, more advanced and aerodynamic planes such as the 787 Dreamliner or the A350.
Singapore Air for some time flew the A340 on a similarly extremely-long flight from Newark to Hong Kong. In order to make the journey, Singapore retrofitted the plane into an all-business class setup with 100 seats for the 18 hour flight. Fewer people = less weight = longer distances. (The Ha’aretz article is incorrect in suggesting that this route is still operated; it ceased in 2013, and will be re-launched in 2018 when they Singapore receives its new A350 Ultra Long Range Aircraft).
I once travelled from Tel Aviv to Papeete, which is is pretty much as far you can travel between two points on the globe. For that trip I flew nonstop Tel Aviv to Los Angeles and from there on to Tahiti. I’m sure that Sheldon’s digs were far nicer on his A340 than I had on ElAl and Air Tahiti Nui in economy!
Well done, Adelson. Well done.