Qatar Airways claims to have launched the world’s longest non-stop regular commercial flight from Doha, Qatar to Auckland, New Zealand. The first flight* landed at 7.25am (18.25 GMT) on Sunday February 5 in Auckland after 16 hours and 23 minutes in the air, while the return leg of the 9,032 mile (14,535 km) flight touched down late Monday in Doha after a scheduled 17 hours and 30 minutes.
Qatar Airways CEO, Akbar Al Baker, joined crew for the inaugural voyage of this new route aboard the long-range Boeing 777-200LR - a plane split into two classes with 217 seats in Economy and 42 seats in Business.
This new long-haul route gives Qatar Airways the edge over Gulf rival Emirates, which last March launched a regular flight between Dubai and Auckland spanning 8,823 miles (14,200 km), with an estimated flight time of just under 16 hours from Dubai to New Zealand and 17 hours and 15 minutes on the return leg.
As far as the record books are concerned though, Sunday’s Qatar flight is far from the longest ever made for a commercial aircraft. On November 9, 2005 a Boeing 777 took off from Hong Kong to land 22 hours and 42 minutes later in London. The aircraft had travelled a distance of 13,420 miles (21,600 km) - a journey made possible by the addition of supplementary fuel tanks on this Boeing 777 variant (-200 LR Worldliner). A first model was delivered to Pakistan International Airlines in 2006. That flight, organised by Boeing to demonstrate the performance of its ultra long-range version, had only 35 people on board: the flight crew, launch company officials and a few journalists. The previous record was set in 1989, when a Boeing 747 flew 10,500 miles (17,000 km) in the first non-stop journey between London, UK and Sydney, Australia.