The world’s longest commercial flight, Emirates’ non-stop service from Dubai to Auckland, may have only begun on 1 March, but it will not be the world’s longest by the end of the year. Qatar Airways has announced their first route to New Zealand, serving Doha to Auckland, to begin service on 3 December.
Qatar will use the Boeing 777 aircraft to serve the route, which was announced by His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker on the opening day of the world’s largest international travel fair, ITB Berlin. In January, Mr. Al Baker had announced the carrier was looking closely at introducing a non-stop service to Auckland as part of extension plans at Bahrain International Airshow.
The service will cover a distance of 14,539 kilometres which will beat out Emirates’ route to Auckland by 339 km. The flight time is believed to be around 18 hours 34 minutes, whereas from Dubai the flight time averages at 17 hours 15 minutes. Emirates was due to add a non-stop service between Dubai and Panama City in February, which was postponed until 31 March 2016. This service would have been the world’s longest in terms of flight time – around 17 hours 35 minutes – but shorter by distance. The route now will not launch until late 2016 or 2017.
The Gulf carrier had intended on launching the Doha-Auckland direct service in June, but held off until the end of the year. His Excellency, Mr. Al Baker said: “We are not going to chicken out, we will definitely fly to Auckland but as a respect to Emirates as they have already launched a direct flight we will wait until the end of the year before we will operate.”
These new services highlight the growing demand of Auckland Airport, and Auckland as a destination. For January 2016, when the airport celebrated 50 years since their official opening, 893,314 international passengers were welcomed. This is the highest number of international passengers ever for a single month, with 43,000 more passengers than December 2015, the previous month with the highest number of international passengers. Compared to January 2015, numbers increased by 9.3 percent.
Auckland Airport were the overall winners of the Routes Asia edition of the Routes 2016 Marketing Awards, which was announced at the event in Manila, Philippines. It is the first time the airport has received the highly regarded accolade, who was also named the winner of the 4-20 million passengers category. The respected panel of judges who chose Auckland Airport was made up of senior members of the airline network planning community.
As overall winners, Auckland Airport are automatically shortlisted for their category at World Routes Awards in Chengdu, China on September 26, 2016.
After receiving the award, Peppy Adi-Purnomo, South East Asia and India Development Manager, Auckland Airport said: “All the work we do is about ‘win win’ and developing a scenario that the business case to airlines work to deliver sustainable air services. We are not interested about short-term success but always look at the long-term and developing a relationship that is right for the airline and also for us at the airport.”