Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela (second from left) with Dubai Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum attending the Global Business Forum in Dubai last year
A direct flight between Dubai and Panama is “only a matter of time” as the two establish closer trade ties, according to Eduardo Fonseca, Panama’s ambassador in the UAE.
In 2016, Emirates shelved plans for a non-stop flight between Dubai and Panama, which at 17 hours and 35 minutes westbound was billed as the world’s longest flight.
In an interview with Arabian Business, Fonseca said that the country has “a unique and strong relationship with Emirates Airline where they have been transparent with their flight planning data.”
“We know which KPIs need to be reached prior to the launch,” he said. “Since they opened a regional commercial office in Panama City, there has been an exponential increase in traffic that has originated from the region and is currently being routed through the Florida and Brazil flights.”
While Fonseca added that the additional layovers are “significant barrier” to additional growth in travellers, Emirates has told Panamanian officials “that the flight is only a matter of time and that its inaugural flight is postponed, not cancelled.”
Additionally, Fonseca said that Panama’s government is working to sure that the flight is an “obvious” profit centre and that is offering all possible assistance to Emirates to make sure the flight can launch as soon as possible.
In February, an Emirates spokesperson told Arabian Business that the airline does “not have any plans to announce at the moment, but we firmly believe in the potential of Central America and remain keen to link the Emirates network to the region in the future.”
Although Fonseca said that the government has no firm statistics on the number of UAE and regional visitors who enter Panama each year since most enter visa-free, there has been “huge interest” brought on by the original announcement of the Emirates flight.