Air travel has really helped to change the way we see the world, but now Qatar Airways is making it even easier to connect with what is now the longest scheduled non-stop commercial flight (by fly time) on its new return route from Auckland, New Zealand (to Qatar), of course.
The route’s maiden voyage—Flight QR920 aboard a Boeing 777-200LR—left from Doha’s Hamed International Airport to arrive at 0730 local time (which is approximately 1830 GMT), today. The distance traveled in 14,535 kilometers (slightly more than 9,000 miles). The return leg of this flight (which is longer than the first leg) runs about 17 hours and 30 minutes.
While the outbound flight arrived slightly earlier (about 15 minutes) than expected, the return flight could take more than 18 hours with heavy head winds.
Qatar airlines chief executive Akbar Al Baker was on board the first flight to oversee the trip. When asked about the potential for fuel price increases to affect their commitment to maintain this route, he responded that the company keeps long term commitments to its country.
He comments, “We never close a route when we launch. We are not an airline that is only here for good times. We are here for good times and bad times because we service the people that we operate to.”
For this daily service from Auckland, the long-range Boeing 777 can hold 217 economy seats with 42 seats in business class.
Qatar Airway’s newest route has beat out the previous record holder for longest flight by time, a feat once held by Emirates. However, it is important to note that this is not the longest flight by distance. That notoriety belongs to Air India, whose Delhi to San Francisco route spans nearly 15,300 kilometers, with a travel time of about 14 hours and 30 minutes. Now, Singapore Airlines may overtake Qatar’s flight record when it resumes its non-stop flight to New York on an ultra-long-distance Airbus A350 variant, in 2018. This flight will take around 19 hours.