Last year Air Tahiti Nui rejected the idea of flying from Papeete to Paris nonstop. The coronavirus made it happen.
On Monday morning (16 March) at 05:59, a special flight landed at the Aéroport de Paris-Charles-de-Gaulle. A Boeing 787-9 from Air Tahiti Nui arrived from Papeete, Tahiti. This in itself is not unusual. But it was a non-stop flight.
Normally Air Tahiti Nui flies as flight TN08 from Papeete to Los Angeles and from there on to Paris. However, due to the US coronavirus pandemic regulations, a flight from the US to Europe is no longer possible. Therefore only passengers with the destination Los Angeles boarded the evening flight on Friday (13 March).
15,715 kilometers without a stop
Those who wanted to go to Paris from Papeete had to wait until Sunday. At 02:45 local time, flight TN64 took off for France. 16 hours and 14 minutes later it landed in Paris, 15,715 kilometres away. This was faster than the 16 hours and 30 minutes expected by Air Tahiti Nui.
In terms of distance, this is a possible record. By comparison, Qantas needs an average of about 17.5 hours to fly from Perth to London on a Boeing 787-9. But the distance between the two cities is only 14,999 kilometers. Singapore Airlines flies 15,344 kilometers from Singapore to New York with the Airbus A350-900 URL – currently the longest scheduled flight in the world.
Now stop in Guadeloupe
In a way, Air Tahiti Nui’s flight was even a sort of domestic flight, since Tahiti is part of the French overseas territory French Polynesia. But the non-stop connection will not become a standard flight. Flight TN08 on Tuesday will make a stopover in Pointe-à-Pitre in Guadeloupe and from there continue on to Paris. If you want to fly from Papeete to Los Angeles, you would have to take flight TN102 on Wednesday.
A manager of Air Tahiti Nui had already brought up the idea at the beginning of 2019 to serve the route Tapeete – Paris regularly non-stop. However, it was clear that the route could only be managed with a reduced payload. So the airline backed out shortly afterwards and declared that it had other priorities.