Short cut over North Pole will slash long-haul air fares and journey times

Long-haul travel is set to become significantly faster and kinder to the environment after Boeing won approval for a relaxation of aviation rules that would cut flying times and bring new destinations to the departure boards of British airports.

The aircraft manufacturer would be allowed to fly its 777 and 787 aircraft more than 2,000 miles from the nearest diversion airport. The change means that pilots can steer more direct courses, making big savings in time, fuel and emissions – and opening up the prospect of non-stop flights from the UK over the North Pole to Pacific destinations including Alaska, Hawaii and French Polynesia.

At present, long-haul twin jets, such as Boeing's 777s, are required to keep within three hours' flying time from the nearest diversion airport, putting many trans-Polar destinations out of reach. Easing the rules to 330 minutes makes many "city pairs" newly viable, and could transform the aviation map of the world.