Emirates to Grab Longest-Flight Title With Panama Route

Emirates A380 Awaits India Approval

Gabriela Maj/Bloomberg

Emirates is set to wrest the title of world’s longest airline route from Australia’s Qantas Airways Ltd. with a service between its Dubai hub and Panama City.

The flight will traverse 13,821 kilometers (8,590 miles), according to the Great Circle Mapper website, outstripping Qantas’s Sydney-Dallas route by 17km. Emirates will use a Boeing Co. 777-200LR -- the longest-range jetliner -- on the service, which will take 17 hours and 35 minutes, it said Thursday.

The longest-ever non-stop sector, operated by Singapore Airlines Ltd. to Newark, New Jersey, spanned 15,344km and took about 19 hours. The daily all-business-class service was halted in 2013 along with a 14,113km Los Angeles route, with analysts suggesting the flights weren’t viable with the aging four-engine Airbus Group SE A340 jets that the Asian carrier deployed.

For Emirates, Panama will serve as a gateway for onward business and tourist travel to cities across Central America, the Caribbean and northern South America, as well as providing capacity for imported electronics, machined products and drugs, Chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum said in the release.

Distance Record

The twin-engine 777-200LRs used on the route, which starts February, will have 266 seats in three classes. The model set a world distance record in 2005 when flying 21,601km -- more than halfway round the world -- eastbound from Hong Kong to London with a minimal passenger load. The usual range is 17,000km.

The most far-flung destination offered now by Emirates is Los Angeles, 13,420 kilometers from Dubai and served using an Airbus A380 superjumbo. Within Latin America, the carrier already operates to Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Buenos Aires.

Routes such as London to Sydney (17,016km), Melbourne and Auckland are currently beyond the capabilities of even the most modern passenger jets with a standard passenger load, though could become viable with Boeing’s upgraded 777X due from 2020.

Because the Earth has a circumference of about 40,000km, no two places on the planet are more than 20,000km apart. Dubai’s location at a natural crossroads between continents means it’s able to link most cities in Europe, Africa, the Americas and Asia, helping Emirates to become the top international airline.

Singapore Air Chief Executive Officer Goh Choon Phong told Bloomberg Television in June that he’s keen to restore nonstop flights to the U.S. and is in talks with Airbus and Boeing on prospects for aircraft with the efficiencies to allow that.

The ending of the Newark route added about five hours to the shortest trip between Singapore and the New York area.

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