Last updated: 10:23 AM ET, Wed March 09 2016

Middle Eastern Airlines Spar for World’s Longest Route

Airlines & Airports | Paul Thompson | March 09, 2016

Middle Eastern Airlines Spar for World’s Longest Route

Photo courtesy of Dubai Airports

By now, you’ve probably heard of Emirates and Qatar Airways — two carriers, each based in the United Arab Emirates, known for exemplary customer service and passenger experience. And like many other things in the rapidly growing UAE, there is no end to their potential. For airline passengers, competition spurs growth, and for these two carriers, that growth is based on the distance of some of the world’s longest flights.

How would you feel about enduring a flight of 16-and-a-half hours? That’s a record currently held by Emirates Flight 449. EK449 flies from Auckland, New Zealand to Dubai — a distance of 8,824 miles, flown by a Boeing 777-200LR. The LR stands for Long Range. This particular plane can cover 10,800 miles, and first entered service in 2006.

READ MORE: Emirates Airlines Fires Back at New Open Skies Report

Emirates 449 just overtook the distance title from Qantas Flight 8. QF8 flies from Dallas-Fort Worth to Sydney (8,589 miles) using an Airbus A380 — the world’s largest and highest capacity commercial airliner. Emirates told The National that the use of flexible routes for EK449 could shave up to three hours off the scheduled enrollee time. Being a west-to-east flight, weather in the form of headwinds will also be a factor.

Geographically speaking, Dubai and Doha, Qatar are practically neighbors. Qatar has its own international airline, Qatar Airways. Qatar Airways is in competition with Emirates, not only in scale of growth, or customer service accolades, but for the bragging rights of flying the world’s longest route. In fact, very soon, Qatar will fly from Doha to Santiago, Chile — eclipsing EK449 by 140 miles. Qatar will also fly its own route to Auckland from Doha, besting the Emirates route by about 200 miles. Qatar’s current longest route is from Doha to Houston, Texas at 8,045 miles.

On March 31, Emirates is planning to launch an even longer flight, from Dubai to Panama City, Panama. Its scheduled flight time is 17 hours and 35 minutes — though its distance at 8,588 miles won’t take the number one slot.

However, it won’t be too long before the longest flight title goes back to Singapore Airlines. The carrier formerly held the title for world’s longest flight, but they vacated the route (Singapore Changi to Newark) in 2013, because they were using the inefficient, four-engine, Airbus A340-500 at a time when fuel prices were sky high. The distance was 9,534 miles, and clocked in at 18.5 hours, far surpassing any current route.

READ MORE: Emirates Now Operating Longest Non-Stop Commercial Flight

The good news is that Singapore Airlines plans to restart that route in 2018, with the help of a new aircraft from Airbus — the A350-900 ULR. The ULR stands for Ultra Long Range, and will be capable of flying up to 19 hours, thanks to fuel tank modifications.

Truth is, no matter which airline takes the prize for World’s Longest Flight, that’s a long time to be stuffed into an airline seat.


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