In a last minute twist, Emirates has announced that an Airbus A380 super-jumbo will be used on the airline's first direct services between Dubai and Auckland as a one-off special.

The flight, which arrives in Auckland tomorrow morning, will be regularly operated with the smaller Boeing 777-200LR.

But an Emirates spokesman said this afternoon that an A380 would be used on the inaugural non-stop services as "a special acknowledgment of the support" Emirates has had from New Zealand.

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Emirates to fly Auckland - Dubai non-stop
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It will be the first time Emirates has had four A380s on the ground in Auckland at the same time.

The airline operates three regular daily A380 services into Auckland from Dubai, via Australia.

The inbound direct flight was expected to take less than 16 hours to cover the 14,000 km route.

But the return flight to Dubai - which leaves Auckland tomorrow evening at 9.30pm - will take around 17 hours and 15 minutes, making it the world's longest duration flight until
Emirates launches a service from Dubai to Panama City later this month.

That flight will be 20 minutes longer.

With the introduction of the new service, Emirates will operate five services into New Zealand daily; three A380 services to Auckland via Australia, a Christchurch service via Bangkok and Sydney with a Boeing 777-ER and the non-stop flight.

It's been a project in the making for a number of years but the key was getting to a point where the market was mature enough to sustain a non-stop flight.

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New Zealand regional manager for Emirates, Chris Lethbridge, told the Business Herald last month that the Auckland direct service had been on the drawing board for some time.

"It's been a project in the making for a number of years but the key was getting to a point where the market was mature enough to sustain a non-stop flight," Lethbridge said.