Storm Ciara spurs transatlantic flights to record-breaking speeds

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Waves crash over Newhaven Lighthouse on the south coast of England, as Storm Ciara swept over the country. AFP

People walk along the promenade as waves in break in a stormy sea alongside the lighthouse in New Brighton, north west England as Storm Ciara swept over the country. AFP

Body boarders ride the stormy waves at Broad Haven, Pembrokeshire, Wales, Britain as Storm Ciara approaches the Welsh coastline. Reuters

The construction fabric has been blown off a scaffold in a construction project during the storm Ciara in Harlingen, The Netherlands. EPA

Waves crash over the harbour wall by a lighthouse as Storm Ciara hits Newhaven, on the south coast of England. AP Photo

A woman holds a hand rail to steady herself as she walks along the harbour wall in Polperro, south west England, as Storm Ciara swept over the country. AFP

A man walks with a child and a dog on a dike against strong wind during the storm Ciara in Harlingen, The Netherlands. AFP

Storm Ciara arrives with waves hitting the Cobb in Lyme Regis, United Kingdom. Getty Images

Storm Ciara arrives with waves hitting the Cobb in Lyme Regis, United Kingdom. Getty Images

Storm Ciara arrives in Lyme Regis, United Kingdom. Getty Images

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Layla Mashkoor

Feb 9, 2020

February 9, 2020

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A British Airways flight has set a new record for the fastest subsonic commercial flight from New York City to London, crossing the Atlantic Ocean in only four hours and 56 minutes.

The transatlantic flight typically takes more than six hours.

The speed boost was a result of the storm system called Ciara, which propelled the passenger aircraft to speeds reaching 1,328 kilometres per hour, significantly faster than the previous day’s flight, which reached a peak speed of 1,202kph, said the flight-tracking website Flightradar24.

As Ciara barrelled towards Ireland and Britain, transatlantic flight times were expected to be shortened due to a strong jet stream over the north Atlantic Ocean that recorded wind speeds of more than 322kph.

Trailing one minute behind the record set by British Airways flight 112 was a Virgin Atlantic flight that made the journey in four hours and 57 minutes. Another British Airways flight on Sunday travelled from Boston to London in only four hours and 47 minutes.

Flights travelling across the Atlantic Ocean in the opposite direction were significantly slowed by the same jet stream, with some flights taking almost three extra hours to reach their destination.

Meanwhile, trains, flights and ferries were cancelled and weather warnings issued across the United Kingdom as the region braced for Storm Ciara’s impact.

The previous record for the fastest commercial subsonic flight was set in 2018 by Norwegian Air, which travelled from New York City’s John F Kennedy airport to London’s Gatwick airport in five hours and 13 minutes.

British Airways is no stranger to record-breaking transatlantic flights – in 1996 the airline’s supersonic Concorde aircraft flew from New York City to London in two hours and 53 minutes.

Updated: February 9, 2020 05:19 PM

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