As a result of American coronavirus travel restrictions, Air Tahiti Nui has broken a world record by flying direct from Tahiti to France.
In the longest ever scheduled passenger flight by distance, the French Polynesian airline flew a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner more than 15,715 kilometres (9,765 miles) from Pape’ete, Tahiti to Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport.
It comes as an unlikely side-effect of American travel restrictions induced by coronavirus (COVID-19), which saw flight TN64’s usual stopover in Los Angeles for refuelling, passenger pickup and deplaning through customs cancelled.
As a result, Air Tahiti Nui changed routes and sent the plane on to Paris.
Because of COVID-19 flight restrictions, Air Tahiti Nui is operating its service to Paris non-stop from Papeete—without its normal stop at LAX.
— Flightradar24 (@flightradar24) March 15, 2020
Travel Weekly has contacted Air Tahiti Nui for comment. However, according to multiple reports, due to the aircraft carrying around half of its passenger capacity, it was able to cover more territory without running low on fuel.
“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,” a spokesperson for Air Tahiti Nui told CNN Travel.
Moreover, adding to this feat is the fact that the flight counts as a domestic trip, meaning Air Tahiti Nui can claim bragging rights for the world’s longest nonstop domestic flight, too.
Project Sunrise still holds duration record
But although flight TN64 is the longest in terms of distance covered, the mantle for the longest period spent in the air still firmly belongs to Australia’s national carrier.
Qantas’ Project Sunrise test flights between London and Sydney saw a Boeing 787 Dreamliner spend 19 hours and 19 minutes in the air.
However, due to these being test flights – and not operating on a schedule or at full capacity – they unfortunately don’t qualify for the record.
Qantas will have to wait until 2023 to claim it officially.
Featured image: Air Tahiti Nui Boeing 787 Dreamliner at Los Angeles International Airport (iStock.com/franckreporter)