Aviation, tourism and energy writer for the Business Herald

How Qatar's Auckland-bound plane stacks up against the competition

Qatar Airways will use a Boeing 777-200LR on the Auckland-Doha route.
Qatar Airways will use a Boeing 777-200LR on the Auckland-Doha route.

Qatar Airways will use a Boeing 777-200LR on the Auckland-Doha route, the only plane it has available in its fleet that is capable of going the distance.

The aircraft Qatar will use on the Auckland route has 259 seats compared to 302 on Air New Zealand's 777-200s which it uses on its shorter duration Buenos Aires and Houston routes and 266 Emirates used for a few months on its Auckland-Dubai direct service.

READ MORE:The rise of Qatar Airways

Qatar Airways senior manager for Australasia Adam Radwanski says there will be 42 business-class seats and 217 in economy, meaning 16 per cent of seating was devoted to the premium cabin - a higher percentage than planes it uses to fly to Australia. CAPA centre for aviation has compared the cabin product Qatar is offering against its Middle Eastern rival Emirates.

Qatar's plane carries just over half the number of Emirates' A380 double decker plane which offers more options for passengers.

Firstly, Qatar won't be offering a first-class product available on the Emirates' A380, although the demand for that product arguably isn't substantial in this particular market, CAPA says.

More importantly, in the business cabin Emirates A380 seats offer direct aisle access.

Qatar's business class on the 777-200LR is a previous generation product configured 2-2-2 meaning those on the window don't get direct access to the aisle as well as reduced privacy.

"This is something corporate travellers may take into consideration when comparing options between carriers, although the twin seating may be more attractive to the leisure market."

In economy, Qatar's 777-200LRs still have 9 across seating opposed to 10 across in Emirates. So the seats are just under an inch (2.5cm) wider than their Emirates equivalent on the A380 giving Qatar a slight advantage on space in this class, CAPA says.

Qatar says there will be four pilots on board, operating in two sets, and 15 cabin crew.

The 777-200LR has the longest range of commercial planes now flying. During a test flight in 2005, the Boeing 777-200LR "Worldliner" flew 21,601km during its 22-hour 42-minute flight from Hong Kong flying eastbound over the North Pacific Ocean, across North America, and then over the mid-north Atlantic Ocean to London with a limited load.

In service, the 777-200LR can carry just over 300 passengers and baggage up to 17,445km.

This in theory puts cities such as New York, Rio De Janeiro and Johannesburg well within range of Auckland but the economics get tricky for airlines which can't carry the same loads into headwinds on routes that may be marginal from the start.

- NZ Herald

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