Emirates overtakes Qantas for world’s longest flight

March 02 02:46 2016

Emirates has bumped Qantas Airways out of the top spot for the world’s longest flight. Emirates took over the title Tuesday with the launch of its 8,819-mile nonstop route between Dubai in the United Arab Emirates and Auckland, New Zealand. That drops Qantas’ 8,576-mile route between Dallas/Fort Worth and Sydney, Australia – the previous record holder – into second place, according to flight-data provider OAG. Delta’s 8,434-mile nonstop route between Atlanta and Johannesburg, South Africa, slides to No. 3.95864882_Emirates-Airlines

Emirates’ move to the top spot actually had been expected to come Feb. 1, the original launch date for the carrier’s planned Dubai-Panama City nonstop route that also would’ve overtaken Qantas’ DFW-Sydney route. But Emirates pushed back the launch of that route to March 31. The delay reportedly came as Emirates worked to secure approval to codeshare with local carriers, according to Business Traveller magazine. Copa Airlines operates a major connecting hub at Panama City, and a codeshare pact would allow the airlines to funnel connecting passengers to each other’s flights on a single ticket.

Regardless of when the Dubai-Panama City route begins, it will not be long enough to overtake Emirates’ just-launched Dubai-Auckland route. Dubai-Panama will be about 236 miles shorter, according to the Great Circle Mapper website. Time-wise, however, the Dubai-to-Panama flights will range from 16 hours, 55 minutes in the summer to 17 hours, 35 minutes in the winter. The latter would eclipse the 17-hour, 20-minute Auckland-to-Dubai flight in terms of time, if not distance. It was just in 2014 that Qantas bumped Delta’s Atlanta-Johannesburg route out of the top spot with its then-new Dallas/Fort Worth-Sydney flight. And the jostling for the title of “world’s longest commercial passenger flight” may not be finished yet.

Qatar Airways’ CEO Akbar Al Baker said earlier this year that the carrier would soon launch nonstop flights from its Doha hub to both Auckland and Santiago, Chile. Those routes – if launched – would become the world’s longest, though Qatar Airways has made no formal announcement about when or if it would follow through on Al Baker’s comments. “We will not add a city before we have the network to support it,” Qatar Airways said in a statement to Bloomberg News. “While the title of longest airline flight may move and shift between carriers, only a few airlines are competing in that space. That’s where the advantage of our geography comes in.”