Dubai: A few days before its scheduled launch of the world’s longest flight from Dubai to Panama City, Emirates has shelved its plans for the route – for the second time now. The route was initially planned for launch on February 1 this year, which was then deferred to March 31.

The airline said in an e-mailed statement to Gulf News on Thursday that it will now launch services to its first Central American destination by the end of 2016 or early 2017 “as soon as conditions allow.”

“The decision was made after an extensive review of all operational factors, including fleet utilisation and commercial demand from key markets against the global economic outlook,” an Emirates spokesperson stated.

The move comes a day after Emirates launched the world’s longest non-stop route from Dubai to Auckland, New Zealand, clocking 17 hours and 15 minutes on the return leg, a tad shorter than Emirates’ planned Panama City route which would last 17 hours and 35 minutes when launched.

Emirates said it remains keen on the Panama launch. “We firmly believe in the potential of Central America, and remain keen to link the Emirates network to the region. We will retain staff in Panama City to continue developing our presence, as well as commercial opportunities with our industry partners,” the Emirates spokesperson said.