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Friday, 10 February 2017

World's longest non-stop commercial flight from Qatar to New Zealand

The world’s longest commercial flight has landed in New Zealand after a 9,032-mile (14,535km) flight from Doha.

“We’ve officially landed in Auckland,” Qatar Airways tweeted as flight QR920 landed at 7.25am (1825 GMT on Sunday), five minutes ahead of schedule after 16 hours and 23 minutes in the air.

The long-range Boeing 777-200LR crossed 10 time zones on its marathon flight.

There were four pilots on board, as well as 15 cabin crew who served 1,100 cups of tea and coffee, 2,000 cold drinks and 1,036 meals during the flight. Fares for the route start at 4,825 Qatari reals (£1,050) for a return economy flight, or 33,285 QAR (£7,250) in first class.

In keeping with international tradition to welcome inaugural flights, the Auckland airport rescue service showered the plane with water cannons on arrival.

New Zealand’s trade minister, Todd McClay, said the estimated economic impact of the new service would be well in excess of NZ$50m (£29.3m) with the increased freight capacity provided.

Last March, Emirates airline launched what was then thought to be the world’s longest non-stop scheduled commercial flight, with a service from Dubai to Auckland, spanning 14,200km.

Air India’s Delhi-San Francisco flight claims the world’s longest by flying distance, but when measured on the surface of the Earth Doha and Auckland are further apart.

However, longer commercial flights have previously operated: the record was held by Singapore Airlines’ marathon 19-hour trip from Singapore to Newark in the US. The distance, about 15,300km, was operated by four-engine Airbus 340-500 planes, which were eventually converted into all-business class cabins to offset the huge fuel costs.

The economics eventually led to the route being culled in 2013, but Singapore Airlines has signed a deal for Airbus to develop an ultra-long range variant of its lightweight A350, which could see flights resume – and the record reclaimed – before the end of the decade.

Although airlines have been re-examining long-haul routes since models such as Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner and the A350 came on the market – with composite materials and fuel efficiency making more far-flung destinations financially viable – the 777 used for Qatar’s Auckland service is a firmly established staple of international aviation.

The long-range version of the 777-200 broke the record for the longest flight in 2005 by taking a circuitous, almost 23-hour route over 21,500km, albeit with no passengers on board.

(Source: Guardian)

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