The world’ longest commercial flight touched down today, marking a record-breaking new connection between Qatar and New Zealand.
The flight took a staggering 17 hours and 30 minutes to reach its destination, covering 14,535 kilometres in the process. As the Qatar Airways Boeing 777 taxied down the runway, the flight was welcomed with a traditional water salute, on the day that New Zealand celebrates Waitangi Day.
It is not just a historic day for the country, though, but for Qatar Airways too.
Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, travelled on board the inaugural flight from Doha to Auckland and was welcomed by The Hon Todd McClay, New Zealand’s Minister of Trade and State Owned Enterprises, and Auckland Airport Chief Executive, Mr. Adrian Littlewood.
H.E. Mr. Al Baker says: “The launch of our new service to Auckland is an important milestone for Qatar Airways as we expand both in the region and globally across our network providing more options and better connections to exciting business and leisure destinations in Europe and the Middle East.”
Qatar aims to expand its routes even further in the coming years, to destinations including Yanbu and Tabuk, Saudi Arabia; Dublin, The Republic of Ireland; Nice, France; Skopje, Macedonia; Chiang Mai, Thailand; Sarajevo, Bosnia Herzegovina; Libreville, Gabon; Douala, Cameroon; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Santiago, Chile; Canberra, Australia; Medan, Indonesia; and Las Vegas, USA.
His Excellency Jeremy Clarke-Watson, New Zealand Ambassador to the State of Qatar, adds that this first new route opens up “greater people to people and business to business connections between our two countries”.
“We look forward to welcoming more Qatari and GCC nationals to New Zealand, taking advantage of New Zealand’s 90-day tourist visitor visa on arrival for GCC citizens,” he continues. “We also look forward to working with Qatar Airways and New Zealand exporters to maximise the potential of the direct service’s freight capacity, which opens up a whole new market for our exporters particularly in fresh food and beverage.”
Indeed, the Doha-Auckland-Doha daily services will offer 116 tonnes of belly-hold capacity every week to support the growing imports of raw, industrial and consumer materials into New Zealand. At the state-of-the-art Hamad International Airport cargo terminal, Qatar Airways Cargo offers QR Fresh, a temperature-controlled handling and storage solution, to deliver perishable products such as dairy produce, meat and fruits from Auckland into the Middle East and on to major European cities.
Mr. Adrian Littlewood, Auckland Airport Chief Executive Officer, predicts that the route will be “very popular with visitors to New Zealand and with New Zealanders travelling, particularly between this country and Europe”.
Auckland is the first city in New Zealand to be served by Qatar Airways and the new daily flight is served by a Boeing 777, which has a two-class configuration with 42 seats in Business Class and 217 seats in Economy Class. The on-demand à la carte menu service allows Business Class passengers to order anything from the menu at any time during the flight – a relief for customers, who may find themselves unsure whether to eat breakfast or dinner by the time their journey ends.
Photo: Qatar AirwaysGoogle+