Qatar Airways has announced the much-awaited resumption of its marathon route from its Doha hub to New Zealand, starting in September. This flight covers an astonishing distance of 9,033 miles, connecting the two cities in a single flight.
Initially launched in February 2017, the service marked a milestone as the world’s longest flight. However, the COVID-19 pandemic put a damper on this impressive feat, forcing the airline to ground the route like many other air routes.
Despite maintaining its network throughout the pandemic, the Auckland route was unfortunately suspended due to New Zealand’s border closure to non-citizens and non-permanent residents in March 2020. With the borders reopened, Qatar Airways is thrilled to resume this epic journey, promising passengers a safe and comfortable travel experience.
As the Kiwi restrictions thawed in 2022, Qatar Airways began flying from Doha to Auckland again, but with a connection in Adelaide (ADL). But on September 1, the nonstop service from the Gulf state to New Zealand’s North Island will resume.
Flight QR920 will depart daily from Doha Hamad International Airport at 1:50 AM Arabian Standard Time and arrive at Auckland International Airport at 2:45 AM the following day, local time.
The return journey, flight QR921, will take off from Auckland at 3:00 PM local time and arrive back in Doha at 11:15 PM the same day.
The flights are long: 15 hours and 55 minutes on the way out and 17 hours and 15 minutes on the return journey. But some passengers will travel comfortably, as the airline will deploy its Airbus A350-1000 on the route, equipped with its market-leading business class product, the Qsuite, for 46 passengers.
The cabin features fully-flat beds, closing doors, and direct aisle access. The planes also seat 281 passengers in economy class.
The use of the Airbus A350s is significant because, until recently, Qatar Airways was in a major legal dispute with Airbus over the condition of the jets. The carrier alleged that the jets’ fuselages were degrading faster than they should, while Airbus maintained the issue was cosmetic.
The Qatar Civil Aviation Authority (QCAA) grounded the aircraft, and the flag carrier refused to accept delivery of any of its ordered A350 jets. Airbus said that by rejecting the delivery, Qatar Airways breached its contract. The aerospace company then canceled all its contracts to deliver jets to Qatar.
The dispute was finally resolved in February, with the companies reaching an amicable settlement and beginning a repair project on the jets. The companies said they “both look forward to getting these aircraft safely back in the air.” And Qatar Airways trusts the plane’s condition, as it will entrust them with its longest journey.
No longer the world’s longest flight
The resumed Doha-Auckland journey will no longer be the world’s longest. It’s since been eclipsed by the Singapore Airlines’ routes between Singapore (SIN) and New York (JFK) and Newark (EWR), at 9,537 miles and 9,523 miles, respectively. But it will narrowly pass Qantas’ route between Perth (PER) and London (LHR) to land in third place.
Qantas will continue its Doha to Adelaide service for the foreseeable. However, it will scrap the Adelaide to Auckland Fifth Freedom flight. Instead, passengers already booked onto the indirect Doha-Adelaide-Auckland route from the autumn will be bumped onto the direct flight. At the same time, another carrier will serve those booked solely between Auckland and Adelaide.
The Doha-Auckland route is one of many nonstop services between New Zealand and the Arabian Peninsula: Emirates already has an 8,824-mile trek between Dubai (DXB) and Auckland.