Emirates revived prospects of the world’s longest flight to Panama, the airline said on April 18, 2018. Encouraged by development potential it sees in Latin America, the airline is already set to introduce new passenger routes in South America as well as considering options for flights to Mexico.

The UAE, Dubai-based carrier Emirates iterated its intentions for non-stop flights to Panama, Central America. The airline’s Chief Commercial Officer Thierry Antinori said Emirates interest in Latin America has grown as the region develops.

“We are still looking at Panama. We had some conversations recently with a delegation from Panama,” Antinori told reporters in Dubai on April 18, 2018, according to Reuters.

Emirates was already set to launch a non-stop service to the capital, Panama City, from its Dubai hub back in early 2016. But the carrier had to put off these plans when it was unable to secure enough code-share agreements for the route to be feasible.

At the time, an Emirates spokeswoman said: “We firmly believe in the potential of Central America, and remain keen to link the Emirates network to the region.” Now, the prospects of making inroads into Central America seem to be back on the table.

Emirates commitment to Latin America

Emirates announced on January 31, 2018, it will begin flights to Santiago, Chile, via Sao Paolo, Brazil starting July 5, 2018. It will be the carrier’s fourth South American passenger route, which will be operated with a two-class configured Boeing 777-200LR.

“The start of our operations to Chile underlines our commitment to South America with our fourth destination on the continent and another five flights to Sao Paulo,” Tim Clark, President and CEO of Emirates commented at the time.

Emirates flies to dozens of destinations all over the world, however, of the 17 in the Americas, the carrier currently has only two destinations – aside of the ones to be introduced this summer – in Latin America, those are Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, and Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Now, the airline says, different options for flights to Mexico’s capital, Mexico City, are also being evaluated. It is the only country with a population of more than 100 million where Emirates is not operating passenger flights, Antinori remarked according to Reuters.

Due to the Mexican capital’s high altitude, non-stop service to Dubai may not be feasible, requiring to consider connecting the route to another city and then onto Dubai. Antinori believes the Boeing 777X is likely to be able to make the non-stop flight. Emirates is the launch customer for the 777X, its deliveries are scheduled to start in 2020.

Renaissance of the ultra-long-haul flights

Airlines seem to have come to the realization that long-haul flights can boost their growth significantly by opening up completely new markets that they would not otherwise be able to access. Not surprisingly, a slew of ultra-long-haul routes are entering the market in 2018.

Qatar Airways, Qantas, and United have all recently launched new ultra-long-haul services, while Singapore Airlines (SIA1) (SINGY) is ready to revive its Singapore - New York route which will surely take the crown for the longest non-stop flight in the world.

Emirates was set to take this title when it announced plans to launch non-stop service to Panama City on Boeing 777-200LR aircraft in 2015. The proposed 8,590-mile route would indeed be the world’s longest to Panama, taking 17 hours and 35 minutes westbound, however, it would not be the longest non-stop flight in the world, neither by distance nor time spent.

According to Forbes, the title belongs to Qatar Airways, which launched the longest flight in the world between its home base in Doha, Qatar, and Auckland, New Zealand, in 2017. The route is operated by a 777-200LR for a journey that takes 18 hours 5 minutes to complete over the distance of 9,032 miles.

Nevertheless, the Panama City - Dubai route would overtake the newly launched Qantas Airways non-stop service from Perth, Australia, to London, UK, which is currently world’s second longest route by distance, covering 9,010 miles in 17 hours, 20 minutes on a 787-9.

It would also beat Emirates own record of the longest non-stop service, the Auckland - Dubai route, which spans 8,824 miles lasting 17 hours, 5 minutes. It has recently been upgraded from a 777 and is now operated on an Airbus A380, counting as the longest flight in the world operated by a superjumbo.