Emirates has carried around 200,000 passengers on its non-stop service between Auckland and Dubai and says the success of the route was based on upgrading to the A380 superjumbo.

Emirates today celebrated 12 months since the first Auckland arrival on the non-stop route, flown first with a 266-seat Boeing 777-200LR and from last October 30 with the double-decker A380, providing up to 491 seats.

The average flight time northbound has been 16 hours, 57 minutes and southbound the duration (usually with tail winds) has been 15 hours, 38 minutes which was quicker than expected. The flight was the longest commercial in the world until Qatar began services from Doha on February 6.

Upgrading the aircraft type was one of the key reasons for a successful first year on the route, the world's longest A380 flight, said Emirates.


"The Boeing 777-200LR was an ideal aircraft to start with on the route and we have been able to build on that successful launch period with the upgrade in capacity provided by our flagship A380s," said Emirates' New Zealand regional manager, Chris Lethbridge.

The smaller Boeing was operating at high load factors and had been successful but the introduction of the A380 gave passengers the opportunity to fly on the double-decker all the way to a number of destinations in Europe.

"And from a customer's point of view we have been able to offer a total consistency of product, with A380s also on our three daily services from Auckland, and daily flight from Christchurch, via Australia to Dubai and beyond."

In its first year of operation on the non-stop route between Auckland and Dubai, the aircraft had an overall load factor of more than 80 per cent.

The long flight gives passengers the opportunity to watch several full-length films, such as the Lord of the Rings trilogy, topped up with a popular television series box set or two and music choices from across the decades.

Emirates now has 93 Airbus A380s in its fleet and a further 49 on order.

Last year Emirates carried more than 1.1 million passengers to and from New Zealand.

Doha is nearly 400 kilometres from Dubai and that makes the Qatar Airways flight longer than Emirates' service.

Qatar is operating its daily flights with a 777-200LR with 259 seats. It has six A380s in its fleet.

Although the long range version of the aeroplane would be capable of making the 14,535km distance to Auckland, Qatar's chief executive Akbar Al Baker told the Herald it would not operate the plane here.

"A380 coming to Auckland comes with a payload penalty and we cannot operate any aircraft on this long range that has a payload penalty because we want to maximise the revenue,'' he said.

The competition between the two Gulf rivals will continue next week with each unveiling widely anticipated new premium cabin products at a big business travel event in Berlin.