A year since Qatar Airways started flying the longest route in the world between Auckland and Doha, airline chief Akbar Al Baker says the route is doing well and will be boosted next year with luxury Qsuites in business class.

The new Boeing 777X-8 is also likely to be used on the route, but not until next decade.

Al Baker told the Herald he was ''pleasantly surprised'' by the Auckland route.

''We wouldn't be flying just for the sake of flying, we need to make money.''


The Qsuite, which is similar to some luxury suites in other airline's first class cabins, was being retrofitted into all the airline's Boeing 777s.

''Unfortunately it will take another year before you're able to try the Qsuite on the New Zealand flight,'' he said.

Qatar uses a Boeing 777-200LR on the 14,525km journey, which can take more than 17 hours. The 777X-8 will not be available until early next decade, but can seat up to 375 passengers with a range capability of 16,110km.

More ultra-long range flying from Doha is planned, which Al Baker said fitted the airline's strategy of flying point to point directly, avoiding busy or congested hubs and preferring to fly passengers through its own near-new state-of-the-art Hamad Airport.

However, he said that while he was happy with the performance of the New Zealand operation, there were no plans to expand it.

Qatar's entry to the New Zealand market had helped fuel an airline price war at both ends of the plane. He did warn that current elevated oil prices would be felt by passengers.

Qatar Airways Cabin Services Director Ana Ciobanu sits on a double bed Qsuite. Photo / Greg Bowker
Qatar Airways Cabin Services Director Ana Ciobanu sits on a double bed Qsuite. Photo / Greg Bowker

''Any increase in oil price affects an airline and we are no different from that - the thing we'll have to do is pass that increase to the customer. Fares will rise, of course they will,'' said Al Baker.

The Qsuite would be welcomed by premium travellers, said Sean Berenson, Flight Centre NZ general manager product.


''We expect the Qsuite to resonate very well with our customers as premium travel increases in demand year on year. Over the last year we have seen a 16 per cent increase in business class and 11 per cent increase in premium economy travel.

"The new product would not only appeal to our business customers but also our 'bleisure' customers, particularly for long haul flights as they are guaranteed comfort for a more affordable price.

''With such an extensive network, it makes it easy for customers to add leisure trips onto the end of business travel.''
• Grant Bradley travelled to Canberra courtesy of Qatar Airways