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21 February 2024

World's longest flights: UAE's Emirates and Etihad soar highest

By Shuchita Kapur

The world record of longest scheduled commercial flight has been fought fiercely in the recent past, and the crown will soon sit pretty with Emirates airline.

The Dubai-based Emirates is set to become the new record holder for longest flight duration when it when it begins flights to Panama City on February 1.


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On that day, the new Emirates service will push the current leader Qantas to second spot. The route is set to take 17 hours and 35 minutes, pushing Qantas Airways' Sydney to Dallas service using the Airbus A380 to second spot, which takes 16 hours 55 minutes on the return trip.

In fact, UAE airlines Emirates and Etihad Airways together hold prominent spots on six of the 11 longest flights in the world, and along with Gulf-based peers Saudi Arabian Airlines and Qatar Airways, occupy eight of the 11 spots.

According to Wego.com, a travel search site in the Asia Pacific and Middle East, of the top eleven 11 longest flights in the world, eight are serviced by Middle Eastern carriers.

Of the GCC carriers among the longest 11 flights, the Dubai-based Emirates operates four such flights, followed by of the Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways, which operates two, in addition Saudia and Qatar, which operate one each.

Among the longest flights, Etihad Airway's Abu Dhabi to Los Angeles; Emirates' Dubai to Los Angeles; Saudia's Jeddah Los Angeles and Qatar Airways' Doha to Los Angeles feature prominently on the list.

Until 2013, Singapore Airlines held the record for longest flight for its 100 passenger, all business class service from Singapore to Newark, a distance of 15,329km. However, that flight was cancelled in 2013, after which the record returned to Qantas with their Sydney to Dallas/Fort Worth service, a distance of 13,804 km.

This year, the aviation landscape is about to change yet again with a lot of new records, thanks on the most part to Middle Eastern carriers, according to Dean Wicks, Chief Flights Officer for Wego.

"The rapid pace in which Middle East carriers launch new routes and continue to grow, purchasing larger fleets of wide body aircraft in huge numbers, is establishing the region as the new world aviation superhub," he added.

Data shows the Dubai airport witnessed an average growth of around 6.5 million passengers a month in 2015 for 11 months. Dubai International airport remained the world's busiest airport by international traffic for the second consecutive year in 2015.

"The Mena region continues to display its commitment to the travel industry with impressive fleet additions, and new and renovated airport investments. Istanbul's new airport, slated to open in 2018, potentially could launch 200 new routes to over 150 destinations," said Wicks.

"Aviation has come a long way since 1943, when Qantas operated the world's longest commercial flight with a weekly service between Perth and Colombo," said Dean Wicks, Chief Flights Officer for Wego. "The duration of the flight was 28-32 hours, and seated three passengers on a tiny Catalina aircraft travelling at 200km/h."

According to the most recent statistics, 2016 will see 1,100 new services scheduled from 170 airlines the world over. Competition in aviation has never been so fierce and the Middle East region is stepping up to be a leading contender.