Long-haul flights are going because they burn fuel simply to carry enough fuel to make the long runs. In fact, one European airline executive told me that his nonstop flights to the West Coast use about 30 percent more fuel per hour than his nonstops to the East Coast. So it’s not surprising that Thai Airways is dropping its New York-Bangkok route (it stops at the end of the month) or Aer Lingus is cutting its Los Angeles-Dublin run (it ends in October).
This makes perfect sense: you burn a lot of fuel simply transporting the heavy jet fuel you’re going to be burning in the later hours of the flight. I can see this as being very good news for places like Dubai: airlines will increasingly want to refuel there, just to save on jet fuel costs. When they do, their passengers will spend lots of money at the duty free shops, and Dubai will find itself with that many more airline connections to all over the world.
Unfortunately, there aren’t any natural refuelling stops on a run like LA-Dublin, not unless or until they build an airport way up on the Hudson Bay somewhere. Which they might do, you never know, if the Northwest Passage starts reliably opening up every year. But Dubai could be a natural refuelling point for NY-Bangkok, notwithstanding the fact that the actual geographic midpoint between the two cities is a Russian island in the Arctic Sea.