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Until 1998, it took about 20 hours to fly between New York and Hong Kong. Passengers often flew on a British Airways overnight flight from New York's John F. Kennedy Airport to London's Heathrow Airport. Then, a British Airways connection to Hong Kong's Kai Tak was a feasible option. However, improved technology is enabling aeroplanes to fly longer segments than ever before, and connections are losing popularity. When Hong Kong's Chek Lap Kok Airport opened, in July 1998, Cathay Pacific inaugurated the first non-stop flight from New York to Hong Kong over the North Pole. This reduced flying time by about five hours. It may be argued that passengers prefer a direct flight, rather than a five-hour detour on British Airways; thus, it may be said that technology might erode the market share of British Airways, in some markets.
Where British Airways maintained its technological advantage, is on supersonic flights. These use the Concorde, an aircraft type of which British Airways has seven. With a range of 4,053 miles (6,523km), the Concorde whisks 100 passengers at 1,336 miles per hour (2,150km/h). However, after 22 years in service, the jet is showing signs of fatigue. On May 25, 1998, a Concorde had to turn back to London when a piece of the wing fell off, in flight.
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