In a historic announcement, Emirates Airlines says it will launch non-stop service between Dubai and Panama City, creating a direct business link between the hub of the Middle East and the trade and cultural hub of Central America.
The flights will be significant for many reasons – not only will it connect Dubai and Middle East business directly to Panama City, it will be the longest non-stop flight in the world. The flight on a Boeing Co. 777-200LR will take 17 hours and 35 minutes from Dubai and travel 13,821 kilometers. That is 17 km longer than Qantas’ flight from Sydney to Dallas, according to the Circle Mapper website.
Perhaps more importantly, this is a great opportunity for the property industry in Panama City. It will open a wide variety of doors between Panama and the Middle East, making it easier to do business. Direct flights are always cited as a key factor in international property buying decisions.
Emiratis—and Middle Easterners, in general—have been big buyers of real estate around the world, especially since turmoil gripped their region. Dubai was the main focus for many Middle East property investors, but the roller coaster market has scared off many smart buyers.
Post-2008 prices in Dubai collapsed as much as 50 percent in some neighborhoods. Many investors lost everything when dramatic projects announced with much hoopla were never built. Prices in Dubai soared again last year, sparking another buying frenzy and reviving talk of another bubble, but now the market has slowed again.
In contrast, Panama has been relatively stable and the city offers the type of glamorous luxury waterfront homes preferred by Middle East buyers. The steady rental market will also be appealing for investors looking for a long-term hedge in their portfolios.
The non-stop air flight, which is scheduled to start Feb. 1, will make it all that much easier for Middle East investors to discover the attributes of the Panama City property market.
“This new direct flight between Dubai and Panama City will connect Latin America with the Middle East, Asia and Africa,” explained Eduardo Fonseca Ward, Consul General of the Republic of Panama, in Dubai. “This link will generate a broader global network with countless commercial and cultural opportunities for the two regions.
In addition to 266 passengers the plane can carry up to 15 tons of cargo. It will also cement Panama City’s role as the trade and cultural hub of Central America. Dubai serves a similar role in the Middle East, providing a link to the region through Dubai International Airport, which surpassed London’s Heathrow as the world’s busiest airport earlier this year.
“Panama City will be our first destination gateway in Central America, providing a convenient option for our passengers traveling from or through our global hub in Dubai and onward to destinations throughout Central America, the Caribbean and the northern part of South America,” said His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Airline & Group.
Duncan McGowan is president of Punta Pacifica Realty, a Panama real estate agency focused on Punta Pacifica, the exclusive neighborhood of 18 towers perched on the edge of the Pacific Ocean.