DOHA: Qatar Airways launched the world’s longest scheduled commercial service with its inaugural flight from Doha to Auckland taking off eight minutes early on Sunday, a company spokeswoman said.
Flight QR920 left the Qatari capital at 05:02 (0202 GMT) and is set to land in New Zealand at 07:30 local time on Monday (1830 GMT).
The Boeing 777 flight will take 16 hours and 20 minutes, pass over 10 time zones, five countries and travel 14,535 kilometres (9,032 miles) before reaching Auckland.
But even that flying time may be looked on jealously by passengers on the return flight which, due to high-altitude winds, will take 17 hours and 30 minutes, according to the company website.
This will make it the world’s longest passenger service in terms of flying time, according to tracking website flightradar24.
Qatar Airways did not immediately have a figure for the number of passengers who boarded on Sunday, but it is believed there are four pilots and 15 crew on the plane.
In March last year, 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 kilometres (8,824 miles).