Storm Ciara spurs transatlantic flights to record-breaking speeds

British Airways flight from New York reaches London more than an hour early

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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.