On Sunday evening, a Boeing 777 landed after the longest non-stop commercial flight in the world. Qatar Airways achieved the record title for a flight from Doha, Qatar, to Auckland, New Zealand.
“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 Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker, who traveled on the flight, said in a statement. “Achieving the title of world’s longest flight … makes this an even more momentous occasion for Qatar Airlines and provides another accomplishment to celebrate in this our 20th year flying the flag internationally for Qatar.”
— Qatar Airways (@qatarairways) February 5, 2017
The 9,032-mile trip took 16 hours and 23 minutes, crossing 10 time zones. This is now the world’s longest regularly scheduled commercial airline flight. The 259-seat plane took off from Doha International Airport and arrived nearly 17 hours later at 7:25 a.m. local time (Monday) in Auckland.
Flight QR920 employed four pilots and 15 crew members, Britain’s The Independent reported. The crew served 1,100 cups of tea and coffee, 2,000 cold drinks, and 1,036 meals on board.
The plane will complete its return trip to Doha soon, setting a final record for the longest non-stop commercial fight, since the return journey takes an hour longer due to headwinds. It is expected to take 17 hours and 30 minutes.
Qatar Airways beat out its Middle East rival Emirates, whose 8,819-mile route from Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), to Auckland takes 16 hours and 5 minutes, and 17 hours and 20 minutes for the return journey.
Anna.aero presented Qatar Airways with the Platinum Planet prize for their accomplishment.
— anna.aero (@annaaero) February 5, 2017
Air India is a fierce competitor, however. It shifted the route of its flight from Delhi, India, to San Francisco, Calif. this past fall. The new flight path is actually longer than the Qatar Doha-to-Auckland route (at 9,389 miles), but the distance between Delhi and San Francisco is smaller than that between Doha and Auckland. Air India chose the longer route because the tailwinds common on this longer route actually help the airline save fuel compared to the shorter polar route, USA Today reported. Without the voluntary longer route, the Deli-San Francisco flight comes in only at about 7,700 miles, which would not even place it among the world’s 25 longest routes by distance.
Another competitor, Singapore Airlines, plans to launch non-stop service between Singapore and New York City in 2018, when it expects to become the first to fly a new “ultra long range” variant of Airbus’ new A350 widebody. At a distance of more than 9,500 miles, that route would leave Qatar Airlines’ new accomplishment in the dust.