Qatar Airways has launched its first service to Auckland, New Zealand with the return leg set to be the longest scheduled commercial flight by flying time, according to the airline’s website.

Flight QR920 departed Doha’s Hamed International Airport today, a spokeswoman confirmed, and was scheduled to arrive in Auckland.

The flight was expected to take 16 hours and 20 minutes and the return service, taking 17 hours and 30 minutes, would be the world’s longest, according to the flight tracking website flightradar24.

The new Qatar Airways service takes longer than the Emirates flight to Auckland. Emirates launched direct flights to city from Dubai in March 2016. The Emirates non-stop daily flight takes just under 16 hours from Dubai to New Zealand and 17 hours, 15 minutes in the other direction, according to its website. For its inaugural flight, the carrier used an A380 but regular routes use the Boeing 777.

Emirates now offers the option of travelling to Auckland with a stopover in Australia on one Emirates’ three daily A380 services, flying non-stop direct into Auckland on the B777-200LR, or flying to the South Island on the daily B777-300ER Christchurch service.

Qatar Airways is also using a 777 on the 14,534-kilometre flight to Auckland, its first service to New Zealand, it said. Improvements in technology over the past decade have allowed more efficient fuel use, encouraging longer flights.

Air India has a longer flight by distance than the Qatar route, spanning 15,298km from Delhi to San Francisco; this takes 14 hours and 30 minutes, according to the Times of India.