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Fly nonstop from New York to Middle-earth

Well, not the real Middle-earth, but the place that stood for it in The Lord of the Rings films could get a 17-hour flight from Newark's airport in New Jersey.

A 787 in Air New Zealand's livery.
Air New Zealand

Not to be outdone by its rival Australian airline across the Tasman Sea, Air New Zealand said Tuesday that it plans to start nonstop service between Newark Liberty Airport in New Jersey and Auckland, New Zealand in October, 2020. It will be the first time the two cities are connected by air, saving passengers a stopover elsewhere in the US.

If Air New Zealand gets the necessary regulatory approval, the route will be flown three times weekly year-round by Boeing 787-9 aircraft. According to the airline, the 14,178-kilometer (or about 8,810-mile) route will take 15 hours, 40 minutes northbound and 17 hours, 40 miles southbound.

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The flight would be among the top five longest commercial air routes in the world by distance. The longest flight in the world is currently operated by Singapore Airlines between Newark and Singapore. Last week, Qantas flew a 787-9 nonstop between New York and Sydney, but the 19-hour flight was only a test run for possible future service.

With the addition of Newark to its route map, Air New Zealand will discontinue service to London from Los Angeles, a flight that it's operated since 1982. Any Londoners wanting to fly to Auckland will have to jump on a partner airline instead.

In the US, Air New Zealand already flies to San Francisco, Los Angeles, Honolulu, Houston and Chicago. Though the airline has discontinued its Lord of the Rings-themed aircraft and safety videos, fans of the films in New York may get their own gateway to the real home of the fictional Middle-earth, as well.