Photos by Bruno Levionnois, Bruno Muthelet & Jerome Foissac

MIAMI – Paris-Orly-based carrier French Bee (BF) has beaten Air Tahiti Nui (TN) in the longest domestic flight record.

Air Tahiti Nui had recently instigated the record back in March, traveling 15,715km in 15 hours and 45 minutes on its Papeete to Paris Charles de Gaulle 787 Dreamliner service, following the U.S travel ban disabling a stop-over in Los Angeles.

Photos by Bruno Levionnois, Bruno Muthelet & Jerome Foissac

French Bee was able to beat this record by operating a 16,129km journey on May 14 from Papeete to Paris-Orly Airport, beating TN by 414km.

The aircraft, F-HREY, was the Airbus A350-900 in question that took off from Papeete at 10:51 local time on May 14, before arriving into Paris-Orly at 1540L on May 15, offering a total flight time of 16 hours and 49 minutes.

The flight had around 20 tons of medical supplies on board as the airline aims to help those in the French Polynesian islands.

F-HREY had previously conducted cargo flights to Papeete from Orly with a stop-over in Pointe-a-Pitre in Guadeloupe on May 12, signifying the lifeline the carrier is being to the islands.

Commenting on this milestone was Muriel Assouline, the Managing Director for French Bee who expressed great pride in achieving this mission.

“We are pleased and proud to have been able to complete this record flight under these exceptional circumstances. We would also like to highlight the commitment of our pilots, all volunteers for these flights, and also all of our partners in Orly and Papeete.”

Photos by Bruno Levionnois, Bruno Muthelet & Jerome Foissac

“This record confirms the Dubreuil Group’s choice of a unique fleet of Airbus A350. It is the most advanced aircraft in the world in terms of energy efficiency.”

Also commenting on this was Ludovic Andre, the Director of Air Operations and Chief Pilot of the French carrier, discussing details about the flight.

“The flight was carried out under standard performance conditions of the Airbus A350, with an average altitude of 12,500 meters, at a speed of 940 km/h. The A350’s fuel consumption qualities, 25% less than a conventional long-haul aircraft, enabled it to cross these 16,129 kilometers.”

As with the TN operation that took place in March, the BF operation now overtakes the world’s longest regular flight: Singapore Airlines’ (SQ) service between Singapore and Newark.

However, it is key to note that with the TN and BF direct service, this is something that may not happen that regularly going forward once the pandemic comes to an end.

Photos by Bruno Levionnois, Bruno Muthelet & Jerome Foissac

It could be speculated that it offers an opportunity for the likes of BF and TN to remove its use of San Francisco and Los Angeles in order to market towards direct flights.

Then again, it also remains clear that those airports will be useful for those that do not want to go beyond the U.S.

It will be interesting to see in the future whether this will kick-start any incentive of direct non-stop flights to the islands and whether both carriers will take a Qantas-esque approach to ultra-long-haul operations.