It was a historic moment for Qatar Airways on 6 January, as it launched its new record-breaking Auckland service on one of the country’s most significant days of the year – Waitangi Day. The first Qatar Airways flight touched down on the North Island of New Zealand, just after sunrise.
Celebrations to commemorate the launch of the world’s longest commercial flight – which takes 17 hours and 30 minutes and covers a distance of 14,535 kilometres – began at the airport with a traditional water salute as the Qatar Airways Boeing 777 taxied down the runway. 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.
Auckland is the first city in New Zealand to be served by Qatar Airways and will provide a gateway for travellers to visit the country, which is famous for its landscapes. The new daily flight to Auckland is served by a Boeing 777, which has a two-class configuration with 42 seats in Business Class and 217 seats in Economy Class. Passengers travelling on board the Qatar Airways Boeing 777 to and from Auckland in Business Class can enjoy one of the most comfortable fully flat beds in the sky with 78 inches of seat pitch. In addition, the on-demand à la carte menu service allows Business Class passengers to order anything from the menu at any time during the flight. The aircraft also features the airline’s award-winning Oryx One entertainment system, offering up to 3000 entertainment options on individual screens in all classes. Passengers travelling on the inaugural flight were welcomed on board with special cupcakes, in addition guests travelling in Business Class received a celebratory Kiwi Rose Fizz mocktail, both created to commemorate the new service. Bespoke menu cards and beverage lists inspired by a traditional Maori carving were also designed especially for the occasion. 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 seamless 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.
Auckland is the first new destination launch of the year for the airline that added 14 new destinations in 2016 and plans to launch more in 2017/18 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.
Passengers planning to travel to New Zealand are encouraged to include a stopover in Doha as part of their journey. With a new transit visa scheme offering visitors a free transit visa for up to 96 hours to or from their final destination, it is now even easier to combine a quick visit to Doha – with its historic sites, five-star shopping and resorts – with a trip to New Zealand.