The world's longest commercial flight, from Qatar to New Zealand, has touched down in Auckland for the first time. The Qatar Airways Boeing 777-200 crossed 14,535 kilometers and 10 time zones on its epic journey.
The Qatar Airways flight was greeted with a celebratory water cannon salute as it taxied down the runway at Auckland airport on Monday.
"We've officially landed in New Zealand, the 'Land of the Long White Cloud,'" the airline tweeted.
The 16-hour, 23-minute flight from Doha covered a distance of 14,535 kilometers (9,030 miles), crossing 10 time zones and five countries. Qatar Airways said the flight was operated by four pilots and 15 cabin crew.
New Zealand Trade Minister Todd McClay welcomed the inaugural flight, saying the estimated economic impact of the new daily service "will be well in excess" of NZ$50 million ($36 million/33 million euros).
"This increased freight capacity will support New Zealand exporters getting their fresh product to the Middle East and beyond," he said. According to the airline, the daily service provides a weekly freight capacity equivalent to 1,162 sheep.
Longest flight in the world
In March, Emirates launched a 14,200-kilometer Dubai-Auckland service, at the time considered the world's longest nonstop commercial flight.
Air India also claims to offer the world's longest flight with its Delhi to San Francisco service, spanning 15,300 kilometers. That flying distance is indeed greater because the Air India planes add 1,400 kilometers to use favorable tailwinds, but Doha and Auckland are geographically further apart.
Singapore Airlines plans to resume its 15,344-kilometer, 18.5-hour nonstop flight from Newark, New Jersey, to Singapore in 2018.
nm/tj (AFP, dpa)