COVID-19 Travel Restrictions Lead to New World's Longest Flight

Air Tahiti Nui successfully completed the world’s longest passenger flight by distance over the weekend in a record-breaking journey that was the direct result of travel restrictions stemming from the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

According to CNN Travel, the flight from Papeete in Tahiti, French Polynesia to Paris, France traversed 9,765 miles and lasted just under 16 hours after its regularly scheduled stopover in Los Angeles was canceled because of current U.S. travel restrictions that aim to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

#TN64 about to land in Paris, completing the world’s longest domestic flight.

The next-gen Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner—which was nowhere near capacity and manned by a “reinforced crew” consisting of four pilots—was able to cross much of the Pacific Ocean, the entire continental U.S. and all of the Atlantic Ocean without refueling in the process of its record-breaking flight.

The distance surpassed the previous record held by Singapore Airlines’ Singapore-Newark route, which covers 9,534 miles.

“This flight was operated on an exceptional basis and within the constraints imposed by the American authorities in the face of the COVID-19 epidemic,” an Air Tahiti Nui spokesperson told CNN Travel in a statement.

The spokesperson added that while it was an “exceptional flight” it’s “not destined to be perpetuated.”

Australia’s Qantas completed the world’s longest flight late last year as part of its experimental Project Sunrise, navigating 11,060 miles between London and Sydney over 19 hours and 19 minutes. However, the test flight doesn’t count for the record books since no paying passengers were onboard.

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