There's no trial runs for landing at a new airport for pilots but Air New Zealand captain Wayne Swinburne says standard operating procedures and training take any guesswork out.

At the weekend he commanded the first flight into Seoul Incheon International Airport, in the top 20 in the world for passenger numbers.

There were more than 4200 plane movements the day the flight touched down.

Swinburne has been with Air New Zealand since 1985 and said different airports had specific challenges.

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''In New Zealand we always look at Wellington as being a challenge,'' he said during a rest break en-route to South Korea.

''Airports around the world are unique but we're trained to cater to that.''

A passenger aboard the return Air New Zealand flight from Seoul to Auckland. Photo / Dean Purcell.
A passenger aboard the return Air New Zealand flight from Seoul to Auckland. Photo / Dean Purcell.

While pilots get specific air traffic control clearances for altitude and speed preparations to land at a specific airport, the overall approach was generic.

''Alot of it is standard operating procedures, the same procedures that we'll be flying today to land at Seoul are the same as what we'd be doing at Singapore or Narita (in Japan).''

Air New Zealand last flew to South Korea in the mid-1990s - before Seoul Incheon was opened - and Swinburne did some of those flights.

To help prepare the flight crew now, Incheon data was fed into Air New Zealand's flight simulators which pilots train in four times a year.

''They'll say if you're off to Seoul lets base that simulator contingencies to give you familiarity.''

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Three pilots are rostered to the flight which takes about 12 hours heading north, and 11.5 hours heading back to Auckland.

Back in Auckland he said the landing was routine, although the traffic around the airport was busy.

Tourists visit the Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul, South Korea. Photo / Dean Purcell
Tourists visit the Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul, South Korea. Photo / Dean Purcell

Incheon is a distance of about 9660km and is the 32nd international destination on the airline's network.

The airline uses a 275-seat Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner on the route, which it flies between three and five times a week.

Including transits, Incheon last year handled 68 million passengers (more than three times that of Auckland Airport) and has ambitions to handle 100 million by 2023.

• The Herald travelled to Seoul courtesy of Air NZ

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