Emirates Wants More Fifth Freedom Routes To New York

Middle Eastern carrier Emirates wants to create additional fifth freedom flights into New York. The airline has said that this route would benefit from extra services, but getting it approved is proving a challenge.

Emirates wants to increase its New York fifth freedom offering. Photo: Emirates

Emirates is no stranger to a fifth freedom flight. It’s recently secured one from Barcelona to Mexico City, but naturally, it’s looking for more opportunities. Speaking to The Points Guy (TPG) at the Dubai Air Show, President at Emirates Tim Clark said that fifth freedom flights only count for 1% of the airline’s services. It wants to change that and it’s got the optimum route.

One of Emirates’ most well-received fifth freedom routes is the one between JFK in New York and Milan Malpensa Airport. In the interview, Tim Clark told TPG:


“That flight is completely full all the time. Every single flight is full. We should have two on there…”

Emirates can’t get slots in JFK and Newark can’t accommodate A380 aircraft. Photo: Emirates

The airline operates this route daily on an Airbus A380, which is a decision it said is representative of popular demand. However, whilst Emirates is unmistakably keen to escalate the number of flights it operates between the two destinations, it can’t.

A JFK-shaped wrench in the works

At the Dubai Air Show, Tim Clark said that he could not secure the crucial slots in JFK that would allow him to grow the New York fifth freedom route. Whilst some air carriers like Asiana Airlines are expanding at JFK, Emirates cannot. There are two explanations for this, one logistic and one that’s more personal…


For starters, JFK is the busiest airport in the New York area. It is instrumental in connecting international airlines with the city and vice versa, which justifies its issue in offering slots. With so many airlines wanting to connect with the airport and existing airlines wanting to expand, JFK is oversubscribed when it comes to interest.

That’s the logistic nightmare that faces Emirates when it comes to expanding its abounding fifth freedom route. However, there is another more personal reason that might be hindering it.

Tensions around fifth freedom flights

As more and more international carriers look to offer fifth freedom flights outside of their country’s of origin, it’s caused some palpable distress for native airlines. The issue is that world-renowned giants like Emirates are taking custom away from smaller or local carriers operating the same route.

The grandeur of flying an A380 as well as Emirates’ respected service likely sways passenger opinion. And that has, understandably, ruffled the feathers of some of the larger U.S. carriers.

Emirates’ service may help it divert customers from other airlines. Photo: Emirates

However, Emirates’ fifth freedom routes are commercially valuable. It has a proven track record in the success of its New York to Milan routes, so if it can secure a highly-prized slot at JFK it unlikely to turn it down because of industry tensions.

Emirates does have another fifth freedom route to the U.S.: Athens to Newark, which is flown by a Boeing 777. If it wants to expand, it could look for opportunities at this New York airport. However, the limitation here are with size. Newark can’t offer Emirates the range of aircraft possibilities that JFK can.

Do you think Emirates will expand in Newark? Will it be able to expand fifth freedom routes into New York via JFK? Let us know in the comments!


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Mark D

JFK is not the busiest airport in the US. That would be Atlanta

Also, the issue with Newark is that it’s not A380 ready. And it never will be. Emirates has plenty of aircraft on order that will allow it to expand its 5th Freedom routes if they choose to do so

Gerry S

I was gonna point out that JFK is not the busiest airport in US. I thought it was O’hare in Chicago. Am I wrong?

Gerry S

Yep. I’m wrong (sigh!) It IS Atlanta.


Yep. Nobody is going to spend millions of dollars to renovate facilities to park that outdated white elephant. Emirates can use a 777 instead.

Adam Simmons

The plural of country is COUNTRIES.

Gerry S

She was speaking of country (in the singular). That’s an apostrophe after “country”then the letter “s”. She is correct Adam.

Gerry S

I respect Emirates but as an American I do care more for US airlines. If these new routes will have a negative impact on American aviation transport providers, then I say deny them. Emirates is “plenty big” already.


Don’t you think US consumers have a right to a broader choice, and a better product?
Competition is one of the cornerstones of Capitalism…


Talking only about onboard service…US Majors seriously need to improve theirs !
Not even taking into account the Gulf Sisters…where service is by evidence way better than within US Airlines.
Even some low cost airlines in the US have a better service than Major ones…

Gerry S

Yeah, yeah, I know. I’m just biased and protective of US carriers. No one’s perfect.

justin H

I as a consumer should have the choice. I am almost certain the same 5th freedom flights are available to any carrier flying out of Dubai. If the big carriers in the USA spent a little less time whining and investing in there product they would probably find more people would want to fly with them. Delta seems to be doing that and it seems to be paying off. In the end more flights more passenger more business in the economy. It is a win win for everyone when there is ample choice.

Peter Fletcher

DXB-MAN-JFK would be a good option !!


Virgin Atlantic will be pissed 😂

High Mile Club

[Airport ATL has entered the chatroom]
Airport ATL: I heard there was “busiest airport” contest going on?
IATA: Sorry Atlanta, no professionals.


If your country does not have a good and capable national carrier Emirates is here to help.


Honestly said, I was not a pro Gulf Sisters…till I flew with them !
Still not a PRO, but I have to admit that they are far away better from many airlines…
From checking to boarding to arrival…JUST GREAT.

Atlanta is the busiest airport in the US based on international and domestic traffic combined, if the numbers haven’t changed throughout the years JFK does have more intertional traffic than Atlanta.