April 18, 2018 / 2:24 PM / 3 months ago

Emirates revives prospect of world's longest flight to Panama

DUBAI, April 18 (Reuters) - Emirates has revived prospects of non-stop flights to Panama, the airline said on Wednesday, encouraged by development potential in Latin America.

The Middle East airline shelved plans for flights to Panama City from its Dubai hub in early 2016 after it was unable to secure enough code-share agreements to make the route feasible.

"We are still looking at Panama. We had some conversations recently with a delegation from Panama," Emirates Chief Commercial Officer Thierry Antinori told reporters in Dubai.

Emirates had trumpeted the 8,590-mile (13,824km) route as the world's longest, taking 17 hours and 35 minutes westbound.

Code-shares with Panama's Copa Airlines were to connect Emirates passengers to cities across Central America, the Caribbean and the northern part of South America.

Emirates has shown growing interest in Latin America and Antinori said the airline sees a lot of development in the region.

Flights to Mexico City are also being evaluated, though non-stop services to Dubai may not be feasible because of the Mexican capital's high altitude.

Mexico is the only country with a population of more than 100 million where Emirates is not operating passenger flights, Antinori said.

Asked if Emirates was considering connecting the route to another city and then onto Dubai, Antinori said different options were being considered but that Boeing's 777x jets are likely to be able to make the non-stop journey.

Emirates is a launch customer for the 777x, which Boeing plans to start delivering in 2020.

Emirates will start flights to Santiago, Chile, via Sao Paolo in Brazil during July. It operates other so-called fifth-freedom flights, which allow an airline to fly between foreign countries as part of services to and from its home country, including to the United States. (Reporting by Alexander Cornwell Editing by David Goodman )

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