Let’s be honest, spending hour after hour in an aircraft at 35,000 feet is little fun, unless you’re cosied up in first class dreaming peacefully on a flat bed.
So, the prospect of flying direct from Dubai to Auckland – a route Emirates is to start from March 1 – will be a daunting one, despite the ever-improving level of comfort on offer, and opportunity to watch umpteen movies during the transit across 14,000 kilometres.
Emirates, however, has taken steps to ensure that the time taken on the flight – set to be one of the longest in the world – will be the shortest possible.
It will be using flexible routes, which will vary from day to day as the Boeing 777-200LR being utilised takes advantage of tail-winds and avoids headwinds.
Emirates said that by avoiding a stop-off in Australia and the use of new route-planning technology it could shorten the flight time by three hours. The route will typically take just under 16 hours from Dubai to New Zealand and 17 hours, 15 minutes in the other direction.
The new direct service will be in addition to Emirates’ existing flights to Auckland. Emirates will fly 2,000 seats per day to New Zealand in each direction.
Long-haul flights have become more feasible since the price of fuel plunged. Brent crude oil is currently trading at about $33 a barrel – down from a peak of $115 in 2014.
“Emirates continues to invest in innovative technologies, and we utilise best practices in optimising our flight planning systems, finding the best routes that take into consideration weather and current conditions to ensure we save time, fuel and emissions, while never compromising on the safety and comfort of our passengers and crew,” said Geoff Hounsell, Emirates’ VP Flight Operations Support Services and Air Traffic Management.
The majority of the Boeing 777-200LR flight will be in Australian-managed airspace, where Emirates has worked with Airservices Australia for the past decade to optimise routes.
“Airservices Flex Track and user preferred routes will help Emirates realise significant savings in fuel, reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and reduce the flight time with seasonal and daily variations based on the positioning of jet stream winds,” said Greg Hood, executive general manager, Air Traffic Control at Airservices Australia.
Planning for individual flights commences between 10-12 hours prior to departure and is revised closer to departure.
Two hours prior to flight departure, the most optimised route is chosen, but can still be updated during the flight, according to Emirates.
The Boeing 777-200LR, of which Emirates has 10, can fly up to a range of 8,400 nautical miles with a full passenger load of 266.
Emirates said the non-stop flight will have 13 cabin crew and four pilots on board, allowing for rest periods.
The Dubai carrier was due to start the world’s longest flight to Panama on February 1, but delayed it until March 31 as it was awaiting codeshare approvals.
The route is set to take 17 hours and 35 minutes, eclipsing Qantas Airways’ Sydney to Dallas service using the Airbus A380, which takes 16 hours 55 minutes on the return trip.
Qatar said earlier this year it also plans to fly direct from Doha to Auckland, which will take about 18 hours 34 minutes.
Follow The National’s Business section on Twitter