Jan 29, 2016

Emirates comes in fast with world’s longest flight to Auckland

Normally Emirates flags its new routes a year or more in advance. But Dubai-Auckland, no way, it's starting on 2 March, daily, with Boeing 777-200LRs and will become the world's lon

Ben Sandilands — Editor of Plane Talking

Ben Sandilands

Editor of Plane Talking

The clipped wing version of the Emirates 777-200LR, a design conundrum?
The clipped wing version of the Emirates 777-200LR, a design conundrum?

Normally Emirates flags its new routes a year or more in advance. But Dubai-Auckland, no way, it’s starting on 2 March, daily, with Boeing 777-200LRs and will become the world’s longest non-stop scheduled passenger flight.

The sudden speed to render real its long harboured enthusiasm for doing non-stops between its global hub and New Zealand coincides with some drawn out hints from ME rival Qatar Airways that it is going to do Auckland non-stops from its aspirational rival to Dubai, its Doha hub.

Also with 777-200 LRs, the largely less loved derivative of the 777 family which has found destiny in dueling Middle East rivals.  All we need now is for Etihad to come in with a similar non-stop from Abu Dhabi.

All of which is, or might be, great news for New Zealand tourism. Just think of the health spa recovery packages it’s leisure operators might offer any one who arrives via an epic and jam packed economy class experience in the hideous 10 across seating Emirates puts into Boeings which were intended to be a comparatively spacious nine across in economy for the 777’s generous cabin width.

Note that Qatar Airways currently has that classic nine across economy seating in the ultra long range version of the 777, so if it goes ahead with its even longer Doha-Auckland service it will have a selling point over its UAE rival.

In its statement Emirates estimates that the flight time from Auckland to Dubai will be 17 hours 15 minutes or just under 16 hours the other way. (From Sydney in its more civilised A380s the scheduled times are 14 hours 45 minutes and 13 hours 30 minutes respectively.)

The Dubai-Auckland flight times reflect estimates based on typical met conditions as well as outright distance, and are not much longer than those that are posted by Qantas A380s doing the Sydney-Dallas Fort Worth route, which is currently the world’s longest by distance flown, but almost 400 kms less in length than the impending Emirates non-stops to NZ.

The Emirates scheduling for these services will of course facilitate ready connections to its large European, central Asia, middle eastern and African networks.

Which will no doubt, subtract from the beyond-Dubai traffic from NZ that currently flies on its trans Tasman A380s between Auckland and Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. But will that cause a rethink in those A380 tag flights? Maybe, maybe not, because even if the numbers would cause such a reconsideration, the agreements Qantas and Emirates made to the ACCC in getting approval for their commercial relationships did come with certain commitments to maintain capacity on various services.

The move by Emirates has commercial significance on a large scale. It will further fire up Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific, who value their access to the broader world market to NZ over their Changi and Hong Kong hubs respectively, and save a lot of travellers to NZ from the Sydney transit experience.

With recent moves on NZ world traffic by SingaporeAir over Canberra and out of Wellington, and a return by AirAsia X, and initiatives by American and China carriers, the fundamentals of that market are on move.

Where they will lead nobody knows, but the gamblers are placing jet sized bets on the Tasman table as the croupier calls  faites vos jeux.

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14 thoughts on “Emirates comes in fast with world’s longest flight to Auckland

  1. ggm

    Ben, how can they do 10 across and make the ETOPS? Surely the whole point is they can only do this, with lighter seatload so this winds up economic on less dense or, it doesn’t work at all.

    Rigging the craft to have 10 over but being unable to freight their bags makes little logic.

    Are there no comfy triple-7 configurations left?

  2. comet

    Ben said:

    “Just think of the health spa recovery packages…”

    After 17+ hours in a tight seat, they would probably require a rheumatologist and a physiotherapist to get the joints working again.

  3. 777 Steve

    GGM, without going into nauseating plane spotting detail, the 777-200LR will have no trouble doing this at all. The critical ETOPs section of the flight DXB-AKL is effectively between DXB and PER, after that point, depending on the routing, it is no more restrictive than what you would experience operating a 737. On the AKL-DXB sector the routing will be further north to avoid the southerly jet streams, most likely routing north of BNE and via the general vicinity south of CGK or overhead SIN, all again to avoid the worst of the headwinds en-route. The aircraft will easily lift its MTOW out of Dubai at up to 40C in the summer, which on a 16hr sector won’t be required, out of AKL on a 17.5hr sector it will have no trouble at all.

  4. Dr_Bill

    And I thought PER to DXB was bad enough in a tired 777-200. ( I assume LR.

    Counselling would add into the physical therapy!

  5. FlyLo

    “an epic and jam packed economy class experience in the hideous 10 across seating each of these carriers put into Boeing [777s]”

    Ben, only Emirates and Etihad subject their passengers to 10 across seating. On Qatar it is still the “comparatively spacious nine across in economy”.

  6. Geoff

    I thought it was Qatar?

  7. Ben Sandilands

    Thanks FlyLo,

    That’s a big plus over its tight format 787s. Have checked and corrected the post and pointed out this could be a selling point for its Auckland flights if they go ahead.

  8. Fred

    Business Traveller and Runway Girl Network have both reported that Qatar is moving towards 10-abreast seating in its 777-300ERs. Future 300ER deliveries will feature 10-abreast seating in Economy and their existing aircraft will be retrofitted by the end of 2016. The 200LRs to be used on the Auckland route will remain 9-abreast for the time being. How long will that last??

  9. Bong Inkosi

    A quick check on shows that Emirates seat 266 on their 777LRs. Qatar carry 259 with no 1st class.
    Given the current price of gas, I wonder how feasible a comfortably laid out A388 would go from Sydney to Heathrow direct – with say 350-400 passengers?

  10. FlyLo

    A 23 January 2016 piece posted on the Think-Dash website ( gives a good summary of the current state of play regarding 9 versus 10 abreast seating on the 777.

    For the time being it is relatively easy to choose airlines offering 9 abreast economy seating on 777s.

    ’twas ever thus. I remember a round-the-world trip in 1989 which was largely on Continental and MAS (as Malaysia Airlines was then known). Most of the long-haul legs were flown on DC 10-30 aircraft. Continental had 9 abreast seating (2-5-2). MAS had 10 abreast (3-4-3). The difference in comfort was immense.

    When I emerged at Perth airport after flying FRA-DXB-KUL-PER in a 10-across configuration on MAS I could barely walk! It remains the one and only time I flew MAS (or Malaysia Airlines). The experience scarred me.

  11. ghostwhowalksnz

    That didnt last long as ‘proposed worlds longest flight’ as I see United has announced a 789 connection between Singapore and San Francisco.
    The low fuel prices is spurring these long fuel guzzling flights but still sticking to around the 14500km point. Passengers who do their own booking will still see one stop flights being offered at a lot cheaper price

  12. Simon Gunson

    Non stop flights can offer cheaper fares for the simple reason that both landing fees and the climb from an intermediate stop add substantially to costs.

  13. ghostwhowalksnz

    Almost never the case Simon. Its mostly competition that lowers fares, ie one stop to London has plenty of airlines to chose from, while non stop could be only offered by Qantas and or UK carriers. Fifth freedom isnt offered at all locations and all airlines. ( Air NZ is unusual in that it has fifth freedom rights from LAX to London alongside US and UK carriers and this is because NZ is mostly an ‘open skies’ location)
    The other reason for higher fares is that carrying all the fuel ( usually at expense of passengers or freight) all the way on an ultra long flight doesnt come free.

  14. DrStoat

    I’m happy to spend 17 hours in a plane AKL-DXB rather than transit Australia and experience its airport securtiy ‘professionals’.

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