Dubai: Emirates is launching the world’s longest non-stop route next year with daily flights from Dubai to Panama City, Panama.

The flight to Panama will take 17 hours and 35 minutes and will launch on February 1st, 2016, according to an emailed statement from the airline on Thursday.

It will be the airline’s first passenger service to Central America and will be operated by a three class Boeing 777-200LR (long range), with 8 seats in first class, 42 in business and 216 in economy. The aircraft will be able to carry 15 tonnes of cargo.

The flight time and distance is both longer than the current longest flight, which is operated by Australian airline Qantas from Dallas Fort Worth in the United States to Sydney, Australia. The Qantas flight takes about 16 hours over 13,804 kilometres. Emirates’ new Panama flight will be over a distance of 13,821 kilometres, a spokesperson told Gulf News by email.

Flights to Panama are likely to attract a number of business travellers because of the city’s standing as a regional and global hub for markets, John Strickland, Director of London headquartered aviation advisory JLS Consulting, told Gulf News by email.

“Emirates’ presence in Latin America is limited so far so this presents a natural opportunity. Backed up by the massive permutation of potential journey itineraries at the Dubai hub, I would expect to see the route develop strongly in a relatively short time frame,” he said.

The launch of Emirates services to Panama will also be the only commercial airline to offer a first class product on the route to Panama City’s Tocumen International Airport, stated Shaikh Ahmad Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates airline & Group.

Panama’s Vice President, Isabel Saint Malo de Alvarado, said “it is gratifying to see how diplomatic efforts focused on generating development and prosperity for Panama materialise,”

“New doors to the country will open with a direct connection to the Middle East,” she added.

Emirates already flies to South American cities Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil and Buenos Aires in Argentina.