After a couple of false starts, Qatar Airways has commenced nonstop flights between Doha and New Zealand.
The inaugural service QR920, operated by a Boeing 777-200LR, touched down at Auckland Airport at 0715 on Monday, after a 16-hour journey from Doha.
The aircraft, A7-BBB, received a traditional welcome as it taxiied to the gate after landing.
The reciprocal QR921 was due to depart Auckland at 1440 local time.
Qatar first mooted Doha-Auckland nonstop service in January 2016, with the service originally scheduled to start in June.
However, chief executive Akbar Al Baker said in March the start would be postponed to December “as a respect to Emirates”, given its Gulf rival had already commenced Dubai-Auckland nonstop service at that time.
The start date was later pushed back further to February 2017.
At 7,848nm, Doha-Auckland is the world’s second-longest passenger route, trailing Air India’s Delhi-San Francisco (only when flying eastwards from Delhi).
Air India took the record on October 16 2016, when AI 173 took off from Indira Ghandi International Airport at a few minutes before 0430 local time and landed at San Francisco International Airport some 14 and a half hours later, covering 8,285nm, according to flight tracking website FlightAware.
The return flight is shorter as it heads eastwards from San Francisco and over the Atlantic Ocean back to Delhi, taking advantage of the prevailing tailwinds when flying east.
Subsequent flights have exceeded the 8,285nm covered on that inaugural service that operated with an eastwards routing.
A YouTube video from AirflowNZ captured the arrival
Current longest nonstop passenger flights by distance (nautical miles)
1. Delhi-San Francisco (8,285nm*) operated by Air India with Boeing 777-200LR (*Pacific Ocean routing eastwards from Delhi only)
2. Doha-Auckland (7,848nm) – operated by Qatar Airways with Boeing 777-200LR.
3. Dubai-Auckland (7,668nm) – operated by Emirates with Airbus A380
4. Sydney-Dallas/Fort Worth (7,454nm) – operated by Qantas with Airbus A380
5. San Francisco-Singapore (7,339nm) – operated by United with Boeing 787-9 and Singapore Airlines with Airbus A350-900
6. Atlanta-Johannesburg (7,333nm) – operated by Delta with Boeing 777-200LR
7. Abu Dhabi-Los Angeles (7,291nm) – operated by Etihad with Boeing 777-200LR
8. Dubai-Los Angeles (7,246nm) – operated by Emirates with Airbus A380
9. Jeddah-Los Angeles (7,240nm) – operated by Saudia with Boeing 777-300ER
Planned future routes
1. Singapore-New York (Newark*) (8,285nm)– to be operated by Singapore Airlines with Airbus A350-900ULR. From 2018. (*Airport choice not confirmed)
2. Perth-London (Heathrow*) (7,829nm) – to be operated by Qantas with Boeing 787-9. From 2018. (*Airport choice not confirmed)
3. Singapore-Los Angeles (7,621nm) – to be operated by Singapore Airlines with Airbus A350-900ULR. From 2018
1. Sydney-London (LHR) (9,188nm) – Qantas
2. Sydney-New York (JFK) (8,646nm) – Qantas
3. Sydney-Chicago (ORD) (8,022nm) – Qantas
4. Melbourne-Dallas/Fort Worth (7,814nm) – Qantas
5. Doha-Santiago (7,791nm) – Qatar Airways