The two Middle Eastern airline giants are battling it out for New Zealand passengers with offers including $1 seat upgrades, air miles offers and knocking hundreds of dollars off fares.
Qatar Airways and Emirates compete daily through their hubs in Doha and Dubai respectively, with 17-hour-plus legs there, then flights of four to seven hours to dozens of European destinations.
The airlines' state owners are bitter political rivals, with the United Arab Emirates part of a two-year-old regional blockade of Qatar that includes an airspace ban.
The airlines, both with young fleets over 250-strong and luxurious premium cabins, have this week been making offers to firm up passenger loads into the New Zealand winter next year.
The extra enticements are seen as a way of attracting bookings from passengers who are now accustomed to low promotional fares to Europe.
The two airlines have captured about 40 per cent of New Zealand traffic to and from Britain and Europe.
Qatar this week has been offering special companion fares on purchases of two or more tickets, as well as double air miles for members, five star hotel stays in Doha for around $40, discounts of close to 30 per cent and 25 per cent off hotel bookings around the world.
Companion fares on Qatar mean the price of tickets to Europe (Dublin) have fallen from $1529 to $1369.
Emirates' ''Early Bird'' sale includes a deal to select some economy class seats for just $1.
That means a family of four could save around $560 for a flight from Auckland to London Heathrow.
The deal is valid when departing New Zealand for the UK, Europe and Dubai.
Its airpoints members can also earn double miles when flying on eligible journeys to Europe, Britain and Dubai.
Economy class fares for Auckland travellers start from $1649 (to Porto).
In business cabins - where the airlines compete fiercely - Qatar's return fares starting around $6500 are about $500 below Emirates' best offer for Europe.
Qatar has this year introduced its first class-style Q-Suites to the Auckland-Doha route, while Emirates' A380s have a lounge bar for business class travellers.
And for Qatar passengers not up the front, it today announced its new ''Quisine'' onboard dining experience is now available for economy class passengers travelling
to and from this country.
Portion sizes increase by 20 per cent for appetisers, 25 per cent for main courses, and a 50 per cent increase for desserts.
The new menu has a greater focus on the use of local, fresh and healthy ingredients that are in season and the airline says it will allow an 80 per cent increase in recyclable and biodegradable products being used.
Flight Centre New Zealand general manager, Victoria Courtney, said the airlines were using different tactics beyond just price.
• The battle of business class
''I think that's a way of creating urgency and packaging in a different way to entice customers to book,'' she said.
''With airfares being as low as they've ever been for years, the urgency has gone a little bit - this is a way for airlines to create a different take which isn't just fare-led because the price difference isn't what it used to be.''
Offering extra points and stopover deals was a way of creating a point of difference and urgency.
While tagged 'Early Bird'' by Emirates, Courtney said there were now frequent airfare sale seasons.
Last month her firm sold fares to Amsterdam for as low as $859 return aboard China Southern Airlines, and more sale fares would be on offer at a travel event next weekend.
Auckland Airport's general manager of aeronautical commercial, Scott Tasker, said Qatar's and Emirates' Middle Eastern bases were acting as hubs to Europe for Kiwi travellers.
''I think competition and choice is great for Kiwi travellers with these deals but they both have great onboard products.''
Middle Eastern hubs and others such as Singapore would benefit as more passengers, especially business travellers, were avoiding strife-torn Hong Kong, where the airport and air traffic had been targeted by pro-democracy protesters.
Flight Centre bookings through the territory were well down in August compared to the same month last year. Latest figures from the International Air Transport Association also show weakening growth, which will encourage airlines to discount to fill seats, or cut capacity.
Annual growth in industry-wide revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs) slowed to 3.6 per cent in July. This is a continuation of the weaker trend in business confidence and mounting global risks.
International passenger traffic volumes posted by Middle Eastern airlines grew by 1.6 per cent in July, down from a brisk 8.3 per cent in June after the end of Ramadan.
''While growth outcomes have been volatile in the region in recent months, the seasonally-adjusted data show a clear levelling off since the first half of 2018.'' the association's economists say.
On top of the global impact of the weakness in world trade, volatile oil prices and heightened geopolitical tensions had been negative factors for the region.