World’s longest flight departs Singapore for New York

Passengers of flight SQ22, Singapore Airlines’ inaugural non-stop flight to New York check-in at Changi International Airport in Singapore. (AFP)
Updated 11 October 2018
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World’s longest flight departs Singapore for New York

  • Two pilots, a special wellness menu and more than seven weeks’ worth of film and television entertainment accompany the travelers on the 16,700-kilometer journey to the Big Apple
  • For passengers, the challenge will be what to do with all that down time when they’re up in the air

SINGAPORE: The world’s longest commercial flight took off from Singapore on Thursday, with excited and apprehensive passengers on board settling in for a marathon 19 hours in the air to New York.
A spokeswoman for Singapore Airlines told AFP that Flight SQ22 departed at approximately 11:35pm (1535 GMT) with 150 passengers and 17 crew on board.
Two pilots, a special “wellness” menu and more than seven weeks’ worth of film and television entertainment accompany the travelers on the 16,700-kilometer (10,400-mile) journey to the Big Apple.
The long-range Airbus A350-900ULR is configured to carry up to 161 passengers — 67 in business class and 94 in premium economy, with no regular economy seats available.
For the flight crew — which also includes two first officers and a 13-strong cabin contingent — the workload will be broken up, the airline said, with each pilot having a minimum eight hours’ rest during the flight.
But for passengers, the challenge will be what to do with all that down time when they’re up in the air.
For those not packing a weighty novel (or two), there will be 1,200 hours of audio-visual entertainment to choose from.
Dining options will include dishes the airline says have been selected to promote well-being in the skies, with organic offerings on the menu.
Passenger Peggy Ang, 52, said before the flight that she felt “apprehensive because I’m not sure what would I do in 18.5 hours” inside the plane.
“Now that you asked me, I’m a little bit worried. I’m thinking of sleeping, watching TV, doing my work,” she told reporters after checking in at Changi Airport for the flight.
“I have a lot of notes to read, hopefully I can sleep well,” said Ang, a membership director of an IT services firm.


Two rhinos die in Chad after being relocated from S.Africa

Updated 21 October 2018
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Two rhinos die in Chad after being relocated from S.Africa

JOHANNESBURG: Two of six critically endangered black rhinos have died of unknown causes five months after being flown from South Africa to Chad in a pioneering project to re-introduce the animals, officials said Sunday.
Rhinos in Chad were wiped out by poaching nearly 50 years ago, and the six rhinos were intended to establish a new population in the country after intensive anti-poaching measures were put in place to protect them.
“We can confirm that these two rhinos (a male and a female) were not poached,” the South African environment department and Chad government said in a joint statement. “However, the exact cause of death is not yet known.”
In July, there was widespread outrage and a bitter row over responsibility when 11 black rhinos in Kenya died after being transferred to a new sanctuary, mainly due to toxic levels of salt in borehole drinking water.
The rhinos in Chad had been roaming free in Zakouma National Park since late August after a gradual acclimatization process that saw them first released into small enclosures.
The carcasses of the cow and bull were discovered on October 15.
The surviving four rhinos are being closely monitored, the statement said, adding that a specialist veterinarian had traveled to the park to conduct postmortems.
It said the cause of death would be announced as soon as possible.
In May, the six rhinos were sedated with darts, put in special ventilated steel crates and driven under police escort from Addo park in South Africa to Port Elizabeth airport.
They were then flown to Chad on a 3,000-mile (4,800-kilometer) flight, accompanied by a team of vets checking their stress levels.
The high-profile transfer, which took two years of planning, was hailed as major conservation breakthrough, with translocation organizer African Parks describing it as a “truly hopeful story.”
There are fewer than 25,000 rhinos left in the wild in Africa due to a surge in poaching, and only 5,000 of them are black rhinos.
Black rhinos are rated as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Rhinos are targeted to feed a booming demand for rhino horn in China, Vietnam and other Asian countries, where it is believed to have medicinal qualities.
Northern white rhinos disappeared from Chad several decades ago and the last western black rhino was recorded there in 1972, after decades of poaching pushed both subspecies to local extinction.
Rhinos were re-introduced to Rwanda in 2017.