Emirates Airline postpones launch of world's longest flight

PANAMA CITY: Emirates Airline, which was scheduled to launch what it called the world’s longest non- stop flight this month between Dubai and Panama City, has said it was postponing those plans for around a year.

The launch, which had been slated for March 31, will now occur in late 2016 or early 2017 due to “operational factors,” the Dubai airline said in a statement released in Panama yesterday.

Emirates announced in August that it would launch the world’s longest flight, at 17 hours and 35 minutes between the two trading hubs, making Panama the airline’s first destination in Central America.

The company had said it would offer a daily flight to Panama’s capital aboard a Boeing 777-200LR aircraft, which can also carry up to 15 tonnes of cargo.

However, the company said that upon extensive review, it would now postpone the flight after “considering all operational factors, including fleet utilization and commercial demand.”

Among the world’s other longest flights are one connecting Dallas to Sydney (almost 17 hours), Johannesburg to Atlanta (16 hours, 40 minutes), and Dubai to Los Angeles (16 hours 35 minutes).

Previously, the longest flight, lasting almost 19 hours, linked Singapore and New York and was operated by Singapore Airlines. But it was suspended in 2013 to cut costs.

Emirates said it remained enthusiastic about linking its airline network to the region and would keep its staff in Panama.

Meanwhile yesterday German airline Lufthansa launched a direct flight to Panama, which the company said was its first to Central America.

The flight, which connects Panama City and Frankfurt, will be made five times a week by an Airbus A340-300 with a 298-passenger capacity.