Qatar Airways has launched its new record-breaking Auckland service on one of the country’s most significant days of the year – Waitangi Day.
The first Qatar Airways flight touched down on the North Island of New Zealand, just after sunrise.
Celebrations to commemorate the launch of the world’s longest commercial flight, which takes 17 hours and 30 minutes and covers a distance of 14,535 kilometres, began at the airport with a traditional water salute as the Qatar Airways Boeing 777 taxied down the runway.
Qatar Airways group chief executive, Akbar Al Baker, travelled on-board the inaugural flight from Doha to Auckland and was welcomed by Todd McClay, New Zealand minister of trade and state owned enterprises, and Auckland Airport chief executive Adrian Littlewood.
Al Baker said: “The launch of our new service to Auckland is an important milestone for Qatar Airways as we expand both in the region and globally across our network providing more options and better connections to exciting business and leisure destinations in Europe and the Middle East.
“Arriving in Auckland on Waitangi Day, and achieving the title of world’s longest flight for the return record-breaking service, which covers a distance of 14,535 kilometres and lasts 17 hours and 30 minutes, makes this an even more momentous occasion for Qatar Airways and provides another accomplishment to celebrate in this our 20th year flying the flag internationally for Qatar.”
Auckland is the first city in New Zealand to be served by Qatar Airways and will provide a gateway for travellers to visit the stunning country, which is famous for its spectacular coastlines and lush forest landscapes.
Jeremy Clarke-Watson, New Zealand ambassador to the State of Qatar, added: “Welcoming Qatar Airways to New Zealand, through this direct service, is a significant event in the New Zealand Qatar relationship – opening up greater people to people and business to business connections between our two countries.
“We look forward to welcoming more Qatari and GCC nationals to New Zealand, taking advantage of New Zealand’s 90-day tourist visitor visa on arrival for GCC citizens.
“We also look forward to working with Qatar Airways and New Zealand exporters to maximise the potential of the direct service’s freight capacity, which opens up a whole new market for our exporters particularly in fresh food and beverage.”
The new daily flight to Auckland is served by a Boeing 777, which has a two-class configuration with 42 seats in Business Class and 217 seats in Economy Class.
Passengers travelling on board the Qatar Airways Boeing 777 to and from Auckland in Business Class can enjoy one of the most comfortable fully-flat beds in the sky with 78 inches of seat pitch.
The Doha-Auckland-Doha daily services will offer 116 tonnes of belly-hold capacity every week to support the growing imports of raw, industrial and consumer materials into New Zealand.
The inaugural flight’s arrival from Doha into Auckland Airport was captured by New Zealand’s leading aerial cinematography specialist Tony Monk who filmed the Boeing 777’s approach and descent on to the runway.