Qatar Airways launched the world's longest commercial service from Doha, Qatar, to New Zealand today, touching down in Auckland at sunrise. The trip, which covers 9,032 miles in 17 hours and 30 minutes, set a world record.
Qatar Airways Group chief executive, Akbar Al Baker, was on board and was welcomed by Todd McClay, New Zealand's minister of trade and state-owned enterprises, and Auckland Airport's chief executive, Adrian Littlewood.
"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," said Al Baker.
Auckland is the first city in New Zealand to be served by Qatar Airways. A two-class Boeing 777 covers the route. Business-class seats can convert into fully flat beds; those passengers can order anything from the à la carte menu at any time during the flight.
Auckland is the first new destination launch of the year for Qatar Airways, which added 14 new destinations in 2016. New service for 2017-'18 will land in Yanbu and Tabuk, Saudi Arabia; Dublin, Ireland; Nice, France; Skopje, Macedonia; Chiang Mai, Thailand; Sarajevo, Bosnia Herzegovina; Libreville, Gabon; Douala, Cameroon; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Santiago, Chile; Canberra, Australia; Medan, Indonesia; and Las Vegas.