Get ready. You will soon be able to fly Emirates between New York City and Athens, Greece.
On January 23, the Dubai-based airline announced plans to launch daily flights between the Greek capital and Newark Liberty International Airport just across the Hudson River from Manhattan.
“We are pleased to be able to help meet a strong consumer need long neglected by other airlines, and we would like to thank the authorities and our partners in both the US and Greece for their support of the new route,” Emirates president Sir Tim Clark said in a statement.
Athens, in recent years, has not been a major market for US carriers. Currently, Delta and United only operate seasonal service to the Greek capital from JFK and Newark respectively. When Emirates’ Athens-Newark flights launch on March 12, there will be year-round daily service between the destinations for the first time in half a decade. Emirates is expected to operate the flights using its fleet of Boeing 777-300ER aircraft.
According to Clark, his airline decided to extend its Dubai-Athens route to Newark at the urging of the Greek government. This means that Athens will only serve as a stopover. All flights will commence and end in Newark or Dubai.
This is the second time, in recent years, Emirates has introduced non-stop flights between the US and Europe. In 2013, Emirates launched service from Milan to New York’s JFK International Airport.
Emirates’ announcement was met with a swift and furious response from the airline’s US critics — American, Delta, and United Airlines — through the Partnership for Open and Fair Skies, an organisation tasked with speaking on behalf of three carriers or US3 on the matter. Even though this is just a single route, the additional supply of seat capacity is a threat to the US3’s preciously trans-Atlantic business.
“By flagrantly violating its Open Skies agreement with the United States at the start of the Trump administration, Emirates is throwing down the gauntlet,” Partnership for Open and Fair Skies chief spokesperson, Jill Zuckman, said in a statement. “We look forward to working with President Trump and his team to enforce these agreements and protect American jobs — something that the Obama administration failed to do.”
The US3 allege that the explosive growth experienced by Emirates and its fellow Middle Eastern carriers — Etihad and Qatar Airways — have been fuelled by more than $50 billion in unfair government subsidies over the past decade. The US carriers also assume that continued expansion of the three Middle Eastern carriers or ME3 into the US will lead to the loss domestic aviation jobs. As as result, the US3 contend that the ME3 are in violation of the Open Skies bilateral agreements that govern air travel between the US and foreign nations.
Delta CEO Ed Bastian, along with his predecessor Richard Anderson, has said on many occasions that his company can compete against any airline in the world, but not governments.
In July 2016, representatives of the United Arab Emirates and Qatari governments met with members of the Obama administration to the discuss the matter. However, no concrete results have emerged from those talks.
It is unclear what action, if any, the Trump administration will undertake with respect to the conflict.
All members of the ME3 have repeatedly denied the allegations made by the US3.
In 2016, Emirates was named the best airline in the world by leading consumer aviation website Skytrax — taking the crown from the previous winner, fellow ME3 carrier Qatar Airways.
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