Qatar Airways' longest flight in the world has landed 15 minutes early at Auckland Airport after leaving Doha just over 16 hours ago.

Qatar's 777 has received a traditional water canon welcome at Auckland.

The flight eclipses what is now the longest duration flight, Emirates' Dubai to Auckland service, by up to an hour. The Doha-Auckland service is 342km longer than that of its Gulf rival.

Flight QR 920 pushed back at Doha's Hamad Airport at 3.04 (NZT) yesterday afternoon, according to the airline. The plane has crossed 10 time zones on its flight.

The airline is using a long-range Boeing 777 which has 217 economy seats and 42 business class seats.

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Its flight track took it over Dubai, then over the southern tip of India, Sri Lanka to the south of Indonesia and then through the heart of Australia before heading to Auckland for the 16-hours and 20-minute marathon.

The return flight - which leaves Auckland Airport at 2.40pm tomorrow can take up to an hour longer because of prevailing headwinds.

The plane operating is eight years old and the round trip flight between Doha and Auckland will cover 29,066km.

There are four pilots aboard and 15 cabin crew who will serve 1100 cups of tea and coffee, 2000 cold drinks and 1036 meals during the Doha-Auckland leg.


Air India's Delhi-San Francisco flight is the world's longest by distance but, according to the "Great Circle" route, Doha and Auckland are further apart on the surface of the Earth. Tailwinds mean Air India's flight time is less than 17 hours.

The arrival of Qatar Airways in New Zealand provides more competition for long-haul airlines operating in and out of New Zealand. Qatar has offered some economy fares to Europe at about $1200 and less than $5000 in business class, which travel agents say are among the lowest ever from a five-star carrier.

Auckland Airport has estimated the daily Qatar services will pump close to $200 million into the economy.

Qatar Airways is one of the fastest growing full-service carriers in the world. Just 20 years old, the state-owned airline has close to 200 aircraft in its fleet and hundreds more on order. Last year it started 14 new destinations and says New Zealand has been on its radar for several years following the signing of an Air Services Agreement between the two countries to permit flights.

The airline's outspoken chief executive Akbar Al Baker will be in Auckland for the launch of the service and host a gala dinner for the travel industry on Tuesday night. At the launch of other destinations the airline has rolled out stars such as Kylie Minogue, Mariah Carey and Jennifer Lopez.

It is tight-lipped on the headline act for Tuesday night's function.

Qatar Airways has attracted criticism for its labour practices but says it operates according to the laws of every country it operates in and attracts thousands of applications to work as flight attendants. It has 112 nationalities among its cabin crew.

CAPA Centre for Aviation says that in Australia and New Zealand Gulf airlines have doubled their presence between 2012 and 2017.

In Australasia by 2020, Gulf airlines could create the presence of two Singapore Airlines, an operation which established itself over many decades.

Qatar operates nine Boeing 777-200LRs which are designed for ultra-long-range flights, with a maximum range of 17,445km. The airline's other ultra-long-haul routes include Doha to Los Angeles (13,346km), Houston (12,932km), and Atlanta (11,984km).