Qatar’s national carrier has announced more than a dozen new routes at the ITB travel fair in Berlin this week, including confirmation of the debut of the world’s longest direct flight, a 17.5 hour, 9,031 mile journey from Doha to Auckland, New Zealand.
The current longest flight is operated by Emirates, which launched its 8,823 mile Dubai to Auckland flight at the beginning of this month.
The new Doha-Auckland route – the announcement of which has been heavily trailed since January – will begin on Dec. 3, and will be flown by Qatar Airways‘ Boeing 777 fleet.
The flight from Doha will depart at 2:10am local time and arrive in Auckland at 4:30am the following day. The return flight, meanwhile, will set off from Auckland at 2:40pm, arriving in Doha at 10:10pm on the same day.
The airline also announced 13 other routes at a news conference at the ITB travel fair, two of which have been operated by the airline in the past.
One of these is Nice: the airline said it plans to resume flights to the French city in summer 2017, operating five flights a week on a “wide bodied aircraft.”
Qatar Airways halted its service to Nice in 2013 after a disagreement with the French government, apparently over restrictions on air traffic routes over the country.
The airline will also begin a daily service to the Italian city of Pisa on Aug. 2 using its Airbus A320 narrow body fleet. Pisa will be Qatar Airways’ fourth Italian destination, joining Venice, Rome and Milan.
It will also begin daily flights to Helsinki in Finland on Oct. 10, a service that was first announced in 2011, but which did not go ahead as planned.
Two further new European routes are planned – Sarajevo (Bosnia) will start on Sept. 7, and Skopje (Macedonia) will begin in November. Both destinations will be served three flights a week on the airline’s A320 fleet.
No specific date has been given for the Skopje launch, as is the case with several of the routes announced at the news conference.
New African routes
Six African routes were also announced at the news conference, one of which, a daily service to the Seychelles beginning on Dec. 12, is actually a resumption of an old route.
Qatar Airways suspended its previous Seychelles route in June 2013 citing commercial reasons.
The five other destinations to the continent are all new:
- Marrakesh (Morocco) will operate three times a week from July, a code share with Royal Air Maroc on the Boeing 787;
- Four-times-weekly flights to Windhoek, the capital of Namibia, will begin on Sept. 28; and
- A flight that stops at both Douala (Cameroon) and Libreville (Gabon) will begin three times a week from January 2017.
A further thrice-weekly service is planned to begin summer 2017 between Doha and Lusaka (Zambia).
More options in Thailand
Qatar Airways is also significantly expanding its route network in Thailand, adding four flights a week to the beach resort of Krabi on Dec. 6 and three-a-week to the northern city of Chiang Mai in the same month, although no exact launch date has been given for the latter route yet.
Qatar Airways currently flies to Bangkok, the Thai capital, and the Thai island of Phuket.
The airline’s route expansion is being made possible by frequent deliveries of new aircraft, with the airline saying that it receives a new plane once every 10 days on average.
Are you excited about any of the new routes? Thoughts?