Photographer: Ted S. Warren/AP Photo
Travel

Longest Flight Links Qatar-Auckland in Latest Endurance Test

  • Route spans more than 9,000 miles non-stop from Doha
  • Emirates, Qantas among rivals offering marathon flights

Qatar Airways wrested the world’s-longest-flight title from Mideast rival Emirates with a 9,030-mile (14,535-kilometer) service linking Doha with Auckland that touched down in New Zealand’s biggest city Tuesday.

The route adds 200 miles to the record Emirates established last year by virtue of Doha’s location further west than Dubai. Singapore Airlines Ltd.’s planned resumption of direct flights from its home hub to New York in 2018 would comfortably beat both services, with a distance of more than 9,500 miles.

Qatar Air will serve Auckland daily using 259-seat Boeing Co. 777-200LR aircraft, with the flight taking about 17 1/2 hours. While demand will come chiefly from Europe, the carrier also expects to attract passengers from the U.S. East Coast, even with the long journey time, Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker said at a press briefing after the first service touched down.

Across the region, Qatar Air also serves Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth in Australia, with seat occupancy rates typically running above 85 percent, and plans to add flights to Canberra next February. Al Baker said it’s open to cooperation with a local carrier for onward flights from Auckland following the termination of an existing arrangement with Air New Zealand Ltd.

Qantas Airways Ltd., Australia’s biggest airline, plans to start direct flights between Perth in Western Australia and London in March 2018 using a Boeing 787. That trip spans 9,009 miles, according to the Great Circle Mapper website.

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Direct flights from northwest Europe to the southeast of Australia remain beyond the range of the most modern jets with a full passenger load, though they may be possible in a few years with Boeing’s upgraded 777X series. Even then, Europe-Auckland is likely to remain too much of a stretch.

There’s some confusion regarding the longest-flight title following Air India Ltd.’s switch to a trans-Pacific route between Delhi and San Francisco in order to avoid trans-Atlantic headwinds and reduce travel times. While the service spans more than 9,000 miles, the cities are actually only 7,706 miles apart -- more than 1,300 miles closer than Doha and Auckland.

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