Emirates Wants More Fifth Freedom Routes To New York

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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.

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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.

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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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