Emirates retains longest passenger route, for now

Dubai-headquartered Emirates will hold on to the distinction of operating the world’s longest passenger flights by both distance and duration until at least early 2017.

It had been expected that the carrier, which began operating the ultra-long-haul 8,825 statute mile flight between Dubai International Airport (DXB) and Auckland International Airport (AKL) on March 1, would lose the distinction to fellow Persian Gulf carrier Qatar Airways when it launched its own flight to AKL from Hamad International Airport in Doha (DOH) on July 1.

However, a representative of Qatar Airways told TheTravelPro that the new flight, which would edge Emirates out of first place by 270 miles and 15 minutes’ flying time, has been delayed.

“Our Doha-Auckland service will commence in February 2017,” the representative said. “This is due to a delay in aircraft deliveries.”

Like Emirates, Qatar plans to use a Boeing (NYSE:BA) 777-200LR on the route, which will be from 9,095 statute miles to 9,253 miles and has a published flying time of 16 hours, 20 minutes. As do Emirates’ flight crews, Qatar’s pilots will have the latitude to choose the route that offers the most favorable flight conditions on the day of the flight.

As of this writing, it is unclear whether the distinction of having the longest flight by duration will indeed pass to Qatar or will remain with Emirates, which has planned a new route linking DXB to Tocumen International Airport (PTY) in Panama City, Panama. Commencement of that service has been delayed twice but is expected to launch “by the end of 2016 or early 2017 as soon as conditions allow,” according to a spokesperson for Emirates.

Should Emirates’ Panama flights launch before Qatar’s DOH-AKL flights, Emirates will retain the honor of having the world’s longest passenger flight by duration. The published flying time for westbound flights on the 8,588 mile route between DXB and PTY will be 17 hours, 20 minutes according to Emirates’ website.

Emirates A380 at the gate at LAX
All the flights cited are considered "ultra-long-haul" flights. By definition, such flights are non-stop flights that require more than 12 hours to complete and are typically made by wide-body aircraft such as the Boeing (NYSE:BA) 777-200LR, the Airbus A380-800 or the Airbus A340-500.

Flights of more than six but less than 12 hours are considered "long-haul" flights. Flight from three to six hours are medium-haul flight while flights of less than three hours are considered short-haul flights.

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to fly two of Emirates’ ultra-long-haul flights, including a flight aboard the world's largest passenger jet, the Airbus A380, from Los Angeles International (LAX) to DXB and the flight from DXB to AKL. Before, during and after the trip, I published several articles about the experience, including preparing for an ultra-long-haul flight, experiencing the flight itself, and the destinations of Dubai and Auckland. Those articles are available by clicking the links above.

Visit my main page at TheTravelPro.us for more news, reviews, and personal observations on the world of upmarket travel.

Photos by Carl Dombek
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