Will Emirates Cancel The World’s Longest Flight?

Back in August, Emirates announced that they’d launch the world’s longest flight, between Dubai and Panama City. The route was scheduled to commence on February 1, 2016, and would be 10 miles longer than the current longest flight in the world, which is Dallas to Sydney (8588 vs. 8578 miles).


The route would be operated by a Boeing 777-200LR, so the plane would have fairly limited capacity, with just 266 seats. While the route is a bit puzzling in terms of passenger demand, presumably the route would do fairly well with cargo, given that Panama is a shipping hub.

Emirates 777-200LR first class cabin

Rumor has it that Emirates will be delaying or canceling their new Dubai to Panama City route. Emirates has zeroed out all seat inventory on the route through March 31, 2016, meaning it’s not possible to buy a seat in any cabin through that date. Apparently bookings for the route were just that abysmal, which I suppose is to be expected when an airline cancels a route less than three weeks before launch.

It sure seems like Emirates may not have done the upfront work of establishing relationships with travel agents in the region and possibly setting up agreements with Copa, given that they’re presumably launching this route in hopes of serving destinations in Central America beyond Panama. I’ll be curious to see if this route ever launches. I certainly wouldn’t count on the March 31 launch date as of now either.

In the meantime, this means Qantas retains the title for the world’s longest flight.

Bottom line

The Gulf carriers are known for serving routes which don’t naturally have sufficient demand. For example, if you’ve flown Emirates from Dallas to Dubai, you may notice the planes are consistently half empty (which explains why they’re finally downgrading the route from an A380 to a 777). So I think it’s safe to assume that demand must have been really weak if Emirates is going so far as to delay the route. And if they haven’t figured it out now, I wouldn’t be surprised if they don’t figure it out a couple of months later either.

Time will tell, I suppose!

What do you make of Emirates delaying their Dubai to Panama City route?


  1. Would be a great route for people on the no fly list. They could transit over the Atlantic and take a land route up through to the USA.

  2. Already booked on DFW-SYD flight in September so I was trying to figure out how to get on DXB-PCY one as well but with no AS flight back to the US, couldn’t figure out another way to book it with miles (except for Emirates’ own crazy expensive program).

  3. I could be wrong but how many people would really want to fly that route? It does not make any sense to me.

  4. I think they should have operated this via a hub in Eurooe…… Ideally one served by low cost operators

  5. I got off the DFW-DXB twelve hours ago (my very first Emirates First Class flight!) and had a good chat with a couple of crew members about the load. There were only a couple of empty seats in First but the crew confirmed that business was just 1/3 full. However, they did claim that they were regularly full on the DXB-DFW leg.

  6. CM is still working on implementing the codeshares and Frequent Flier partnership with EK, so that probably has alot to do with it EK will need CM’s support for this to work. EK should have mapped out the partnership BEFORE announcing this route.

  7. This route is the epitome of ‘long-and-thin,’ with the probable emphasis on ‘thin.’ Emirates has an awful lot of ‘big metal’ flying around…no narrow-body planes, in fact. Close to my home, Boston seems to be doing well for Emirates. A jump from the 77L to the 77W came sooner than anyone expected, as did the jump to double-daily. The obligatory jump from there to the A380 only awaits gates at Logan capable on handling it, and those are under construction now.

  8. Thanks for the info re the DXB-DFW downgrade to a 777. Because of this, I just rerouted DXB-IAD. After all, why not have a shower for the same number of points?

  9. It was a terribly odd route to pick, and smacked purely of bragging rights from the airline. But then again, who, other than us, cares about the longest plane journey? People want to go where they want to go, which usually isn’t between Dubai and Panama.

  10. Panama its already cover with european airlines so as we say in Latin America ” no hay cama pa tanta gente” theres no bed for that many people … KLM please come to Costa Rica again!!!

  11. When Emirates bought there Boeing 777’s they told Boeing to remove the long range fuel tanks. When they announced the DXB – PTY route Emirates asked Boeing to re-install the long range tanks and were told we have never done this before and refused,that left Emirates unable to take a full load on this route making it very un-profitable,that is what I have been told by a very senior Emirates Pilot. But hell what do I know….But could not book a first class seat for my return on or around the 22nd March,2016.

    I guess time will tell. And I hope that Emirates finds a good solution as this is a very stragetic route for the UAE and also helps me as well.

    I am sure that Emirates will work it out in due course,but having said that I have just been told that people booked on this flight in March have been told that there flights have been cancelled,which is just outrageous as they have been left to find there own way to there destidation ie PTY.

    Come on Emirates Sort it out, if you have to land to refuel,then give your customers a nice buffet, re-fuel and then get them to there destination.dont just cancel and tell your clients tough luck your on your own its not good for Dubai or the UAE.

    I love the UAE,and have lived here for 16 years,we have overcome many set backs with the guidance and leadership of Sheikh Mo and Sheikh Kalipha we can overcome this challenge as well,without letting booked and confirmed clients down.

    Best Regards

    Mr C
    Without Prejudice

  12. On 14 January I received an email stating that my flight from Dubai to Panama (EK0251) on 3 March had been cancelled. I was not given an explanation and I was not given suggested options. I phoned the local Emirates office and spent 56 minutes on the phone to try and fix this at my own cost. We were offered a refund, but at this late notice we would not have found affordable alternatives.

    The first option I was given was to go via Houston and miss my connecting flight from Panama to Quito. The second option was via Sao Paulo. My original flight landed at 16:40 on 4 March. I had booked accommodation in Panama for the night of the 4th to recover from the ‘longest’ flight in the world. My new flight lands at 6:49am on 5 March. I will now be spending two nights travelling including a lay over from 6pm to 2am in the São Paulo airport. I was not offered any options to make this less horrible. I was not offered an upgrade on one of the legs or access to a lounge in Sao Paulo.

    In addition, it was only explained to me after I had agreed to this route change that the flight from Sao Paulo to Panama will be with Copa – not Emirates. As we are travelling with surfboards, this will cost us money.

    I wrote a complaint to Emirates and received an email stating that on cases such as these, they are unable to offer lounge access or an upgrade. We spent a lot of time choosing this as the best flight for our trip to get to Ecuador. This new route of Johannesburg, Dubai, Sao Paulo, Panama, Ecuador is not the best option.

  13. Emirates and like all Gulf Carriers are subsidised by the government so they could take this ridiculous destinations. The Dxb-Clark (Philippines) route was cancelled by Ek due to abysmally low occupancy. most pax have all the 3 seats to them.

    The Dubai-Panama City, when I first heard about it, I thought will be doomed. And it happened
    You cannot just brag theat you fly here, there, while flying empty.

    Oil price is down. Any subsidy may not be viable.

  14. I was planning on flying this route. Tons of publicity about them starting this but I was wondering why i could not book for Feb. I hope you are wrong about this canceling. For those of us that live in Central American and have business in the middle east this is a dream flight. However, you may be right that there are not many of us.

  15. Cancels Panama and launched a new longest route to Auckland just days before to not lose too much face.

    I guess the rumor about the 777-200LR tanks falls through because as far as I can see they are using this plane for the Auckland flight. It was interesting input though.

    Props to the author for predicting this!

  16. Recently had my Dubai-Panama flight that was booked for Sept cancelled – ironically I’m trying to get from NZ to Costa Rica, but Auckland-Dubai direct is not going to help. Thankfully have a travel agent now trying to sort out an alternative rather than having to deal with Emirates directly, but wish they’d put more planning into their flights at the outset

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