Emirates Can’t Fly Direct To Mexico City Due To High Altitude Of Airport

Emirates has today announced a new route set to serve Mexico City. However, due to the airport’s altitude, the Middle Eastern carrier must stop en route. As such, the route is due to be operated as a fifth freedom flight via Barcelona.

Emirates Mexico City Barcelona
Emirates will fly the route from Dubai to Mexico City using a Boeing 777-200. Photo: Emirates

As the capital of Mexico, it is understandable that Emirates would wish to serve Mexico City, however, they are not alone in struggling with the airport’s notable altitude. Turkish Airlines operates its Mexico City route as a triangle. However, unlike Turkish, Emirates is taking the opportunity to make the route a fifth freedom flight.

The flight details

Emirates’ new route between Dubai and Mexico City will be operated daily. The route will be operated by Emirates’ smaller Boeing 777-200 aircraft. The aircraft being used on the route will only feature two classes.

There will be 38 business class seats in a 2-2-2 configuration. Additionally, the widebody aircraft features 264 economy class seats, likely in a 3-4-3 configuration as per the carrier’s other Boeing 777-200s. The flight will operate as follows:

  • EK 255 will depart Dubai at 03:30 local time, before arriving in Barcelona at 08:00.
  • It will depart again at 09:55 and arrive in Mexico City at 16:15.
  • EK256 will depart Mexico City at 19:40 local time, arriving in Barcelona the next day at 13:25.
  • The flight will then depart from Barcelona at 15:10. It will arrive in Dubai at 00:45.

The leg between Barcelona and Mexico City will be sold as a fifth freedom flight. This means that passengers will be able to just travel between Mexico and Spain. Interestingly, Emirates is offering passengers the opportunity to stopover in Barcelona. This means those flying the whole route will be able to break it up with a couple of nights in Spain.

High altitude operations

Mexico City has an elevation of 7,342 feet, making the airport one of the worlds highest. As a result, some airlines are not able to fly long-haul routes directly. This is because aircraft have reduced takeoff performance at these altitudes.

Emirates Mexico City Barcelona
A typical Emirates Boeing 777 economy class cabin. Photo: Emirates

Turkish Airlines is one airline affected by the high altitude. They will fly their Boeing 787 in a triangle visiting Cancun on the return leg, although they don’t sell the short leg as a fifth freedom flight. As the flight from Mexico City to Cancun is domestic, Turkish Airlines cannot sell tickets for that route. Instead, on Turkish Airlines’ flight, the stop in Cancun is purely to collect fuel, with no passengers boarding or disembarking the aircraft.

However, by securing fifth freedom rights, Emirates can maximize usage of its aircraft. The carrier is essentially able to sell three routes with one flight. Dubai to Barcelona, Barcelona to Mexico City, and Dubai to Mexico City.

What do you think of Emirates’ new route? Would you use it? Let us know in the comments!