Emirates is dropping its first US route this week, with Fort Lauderdale leaving the schedule permanently. The news comes as Emirates starts trimming its extensive route map, even as it looks to resume more routes in the coming months. As it becomes clear that air travel will take at least a few years to bounce back, airlines are making new long-term plans.
First US route cut
The decision to ax Fort Lauderdale marks Emirates’ first US route cancellation. Emirates previously served 12 major US airports all over the country but is now looking to scale back its presence in the country slightly. The airline still serves Orlando in Florida, allowing for short connections to Ft. Lauderdale.
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The service to Ft. Lauderdale was a relatively young one, with flights only starting in December 2016. The airline was the first Middle Eastern carrier to start flights to the city as it saw strong demand from the region. However, with the pandemic affecting demand, leisure routes are on the chopping block.
The decision to remove the destination could signal that Emirates is less bullish on the US market. This could mean a slowing of its flight resumptions plans. Demand has been badly hit due to the slew of travel restrictions still in place, many of which explicitly target the US.
More route cuts
Emirates has made a number of changes to its schedule in the last few weeks. Flights to Adelaide, Rio de Janeiro, Santiago, and Buenos Aires (both fifth freedom routes), have also been canceled, according to Routesonline. This means that Emirates now only serves a single South American destination: São Paulo.
Both the US and Latin America have seen soaring rates of COVID-19 infections, resulting in travel restrictions for passengers from the region. The high case count and lower demand likely pushed Emirates to cancel these routes, as it cuts less profitable routes. The decision to cut flights to Adelaide is likely the same as Australia’s ban on non-essential international travel remains in place.
Even though Emirates is scaling back its route map, the carrier continues to resume services. In August, the airline will resume flights to 70 routes globally, as it continues the meticulous process of rebuilding its network. Not only is the airline quickly resuming routes but also bringing in the superjumbo A380 back into service.
The A380s are currently available on five high-demand routes, London (twice daily), Amsterdam, Paris, Cairo, and Guangzhou. The confidence to bring back the A380 means that travel is picking up pace once again after months of crisis.
The decision to cut routes is a painful but important step for Emirates. While demand is rising slightly, it will be years before we see 2019 levels once again, which means Emirates has to prepare for the future. Emirates could cancel more routes as it tries to survive this current crisis.
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