Emirates is set to wrestle the title of world's longest airline route from Qantas with a service between its Dubai hub and Panama City.
The flight will traverse 13,821 kilometres, according to the Great Circle Mapper website, outstripping Qantas's Sydney-Dallas route by 17km. Emirates will use a Boeing 777-200LR - the longest-range jetliner - on the service, which will take 17 hours and 35 minutes, it said.
The longest-ever non-stop sector, operated by Singapore Airlines to Newark, New Jersey, spanned 15,344 km and took about 19 hours. The daily all-business-class service was halted in 2013 along with a 14,113 km Los Angeles route, with analysts suggesting the flights weren't viable with the aging four-engine Airbus SE A340 jets that the Asian carrier deployed.
For Emirates, Panama will serve as a gateway for onward business and tourist travel to cities across Central America, the Caribbean and northern South America, as well as providing capacity for imported electronics, machined products and drugs, Chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum said in the release.
The twin-engine 777-200LRs used on the route, which have a range of 17,000 km, will feature 266 seats in three classes. The model set the world distance record in 2005 when a plane flew 21,601 km, more than halfway round the world, eastbound between Hong Kong and London, though with only a minimal passenger load.
The most far-flung destination offered now by Emirates is Los Angeles, 13,420 kilometres from Dubai and served using an Airbus A380 superjumbo. Within Latin America, the carrier already operates to Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Buenos Aires.
Routes such as London to Sydney (17,016 km), Melbourne and Auckland are currently beyond the capabilities of even the most modern passenger jets with a standard passenger load, though could become viable with Boeing's upgraded 777X due from 2020.
Because the Earth has a circumference of about 40,000 km, no two places on the planet are more than 20,000 km apart. Dubai's location at a natural crossroads between continents means it's able to link most cities in Europe, Africa, the Americas and Asia, helping Emirates to become the top international airline.