Auckland International Airport, Monday, February 6, 2017
The inaugural flight of Qatar Airways, the world’s longest air service, landed at Auckland International Airport at 715 am, 17 hours and 30 minutes after it took off from Doha, covering 14,539 kms, crossing 10 time zones, creating a record for commercial flight.
The plane received a ‘shower,’ from water cannons on its either side, a traditional international ceremony performed at most airports for inaugural flights.
Qatar Airways is using its ten-year-old Boeing 777-200LR for this service with four pilots on board. It also had 15 cabin crew members who served 1100 cups of tea and coffee, 2000 cold drinks and 1036 meals during the inaugural service.
The flight eclipses what is now the longest duration flight, Emirates’ Dubai to Auckland service, by up to an hour. The Doha-Auckland service is 342 km longer than that of its Gulf rival.
Trade Minister Todd McClay was at the Auckland international airport to welcome the inaugural daily flight.
He said that the world’s longest flight was set to boost New Zealand trade and tourism.
“Qatar is a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and the air link will continue to gain importance when New Zealand concludes a Free Trade Agreement with the GCC,” he said.
More options to travellers
The new Auckland-Doha service will not only provide more options and connections for business and leisure travellers, but will also provide an additional 116 tonnes of freight capacity every week, Mr McClay said.
This increased freight capacity will support New Zealand exporters getting their fresh product to the Middle East and beyond,” Mr McClay said.
Qatar is a significant trading partner of New Zealand, with annual two-way trade exceeding $330 million.
“As a trading nation, New Zealand relies on effective air services to create much needed connections with the rest of the world. The estimated economic impact of this new service will be well in excess of $50 million,” Mr McClay said.
Qatar Airways has an extensive global network of more than 150 destinations. The new service from Auckland improves access to cities in Europe, Central Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
Photo Caption: The inaugural Qatar Airlines Boeing 777 aircraft at Auckland International Airport this morning.