AT 63 metres long, 17 metres tall and weighing more than 250 tonnes, it is a wonder that the 787-9 Dreamliner built by Boeing, an American aircraft-manufacturer, manages to fly at all. And yet on March 24th and 25th, the massive airliner managed to remain aloft for 17 hours straight on Qantas Airways’ inaugural 14,500-km (9,010-mile) flight from Perth to London. It was the first non-stop flight from Australia to Britain in history.

Such “ultra-long-haul” flights are becoming ever-more common. In February 2017, Qatar Airlines launched a 14,536-km (9,032-mile) direct route from Doha to Auckland, currently the longest non-stop flight in the world at 17 hours and 20 minutes. In October, United Airlines began flying a 14,114-km (8,770-mile) route from Los Angeles to Singapore. According to OAG, an aviation-data firm, there are now 19 regularly-scheduled long-haul flights travelling distances of at least 7,000 nautical miles (12,964 kilometres).

This long-haul renaissance can be attributed in part to lighter, more fuel-efficient aircraft made of carbon-fibre composites (older aeroplanes are constructed mainly of aluminium). Low oil prices and strong demand from business travellers have also made ultra-long routes more profitable. While long-haul flights are heavier than shorter ones—they have to carry additional fuel, meals and crew—they also waste less fuel climbing and descending. Airlines can also charge a significant premium for the convenience of a non-stop flight. In 2013, when the price of oil traded as high as $110 a barrel, Singapore Airlines discontinued its 15,345-km (9,535-mile) direct flight from Singapore to New York. With oil cheaper, it will resume the 19-hour route later this year, retaking the title for longest non-stop flight in the world.