Emirates puts Panama plans on hold after codeshare deal delay

Dubai carrier’s president says that many countries still to sign up for interline deal with Copa Airlines
Emirates puts Panama plans on hold after codeshare deal delay
Emirates president Sir Tim Clark. (Getty Images)
By Staff writer
Sun 13 Mar 2016 10:26 AM

Emirates’ plans to use Panama as a hub for Latin American traffic have been put on hold after delays to a key code-sharing deal with a local airline.

The Dubai-based carrier has won approval from “only three or four” of the 13 South American countries needed to agree a code-sharing deal with Panamanian carrier Copa Airlines, Emirates president Sir Tim Clark has said.

Emirates had planned to start flights to Panama in February, although it said last week that services to the Central American country now may not start until early next year.

“Panama was a sort of entry point for South and Central America for us and has huge potential, but we needed to get the aero-political structures in place,” Bloomberg quoted Clark as saying last week.

The newswire reported that Emirates would retain staff already hired in Panama City while the code-sharing deal is finalised.

“You may wonder why people would travel from Guatemala to Dubai - or from Belize or San Salvador -- but we know there is quite a lot of business,” Clark said, according to Bloomberg. “Panama itself is like a mini-Dubai when you look at some of the cities in Central and South America.”

When launched, the service will be the world’s longest non-stop long-haul flight at 17 hours and 35 minutes.

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