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By Laurie Fullerton, Freelance Writer

March 9, 2016 | 3 min read

The New Zealand economy received a boost on March 2 when Emirates airlines made its inaugural Dubai , UAE to Auckland, New Zealand non-stop flight; the longest flight ever made by a commercial airline.

The plane was flown by a New Zealand pilot, and on board were a VIP delegation that included the New Zealand Ambassador to the UAE, Jeremy Clarke-Watson, and the chief executive of the America's Cup sailing team Emirates Team New Zealand, Grant Dalton, returning home from a pre-Americas cup yachting event held in Oman.

A video featuring the America's Cup sailors was published just prior to the flight announcement in what is a unique example of the long-standing support and sponsorship of a professional sailing team from New Zealand by an Arab country.

Since 2004, Emirates Airline, has sponsored the America’s Cup challenger Team New Zealand, a team that won the America's Cup in 1995 and 2000. As the first team from a country outside the United States to win and then defend the America's Cup, their success in America's Cup competitions have contributed to New Zealand's reputation for producing world-class boat designers and sailors.

In 2012, Team New Zealand suffered a devastating loss to Larry Ellison's Team Oracle, and returning home they were stripped of all of their government funding for the team. However, Emirates Airline continued its sponsorship committment to the team and has enabled it to compete at the highest level in the sport of sailing.

"We have made considerable progress because the Emirates Team New Zealand brand is an international leader and well recognized in the sport. Emirates Airline has been with the team since 2004 and their decision to stay with us is important. We are fortunate to have such loyal and committed sponsors," said Grant Dalton in an earlier interview.

In the video, the America's Cup challengers from New Zealand are seen sailing at rapid -fire speed on board their state of the art catamaran. Alas, the wind dies and eventually the sailors are seen paddling and using home fans to try and create some wind. At that moment, an Emirates commercial airline flies overhead heading "home" to Auckland, New Zealand while the sailors are still drifting offshore. The video fades with the announcement of non-stop service from Dubai to Auckland.

“This is an important development for our customers, for Emirates, and for New Zealand. We anticipate high demand for the route, providing a further boost to inbound tourist traffic into New Zealand that now exceeds three million a year. We also expect the service to be popular with New Zealanders seeking faster connections to Europe and the Middle East,” said Gary Chapman, President Group Services and dnata, Emirates Group.

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