sbs.com.au

The world’s longest commercial flight has landed in New Zealand. Qatar Airways’ 14,535 kilometer (9,032 mile) Doha – Auckland service has officially begun. 

“We’ve officially landed in Auckland,” tweeted the airline as flight QR920 landed at 7:25am (18:25 GMT Sunday), 5 minutes ahead of schedule after a 16 hour 23 minute flight.

Taking the longest flight record from Emirates (using the ”Grand Circle” globe point-to-point measurement), the long-range Boeing 777-200LR’s marathon flight crossed approximately 10 time zones.

With oil revenues expected to dwindle in the long term, Qatar plans to emulate its bigger Gulf rival’s success on the New Zealand – Middle East route as part of the country’s push to diversify its economy. Numbers of 17-hour+ flights have also become more common. Passengers now demand direct connections from just about any city pair in the world.

Qatar Airways admitted that the flight was longer than the entire Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies which were shot in New Zealand.

There were 4 pilots on board and 15 cabin crew who served 1,100 cups of tea and coffee, 2,000 cold drinks, and 1,036 meals during the flight.

As an international tradition to welcome inaugural flights, the Auckland airport rescue service showered the plane with water cannons on arrival.

Last year in March, Emirates airline launched what was then thought to be the world’s longest non-stop scheduled commercial flight, with a service from Dubai to Auckland, spanning 14,200 kilometers (8,824 miles).