Miami: Ten European cities have asked Emirates to launch direct services to the United States, airline President Tim Clark said on Monday.
Emirates currently operates one daily fifth freedom service in Europe to the United States, flying from Dubai to Milan to New York with the world’s largest passenger aircraft, the Airbus A380. A fifth freedom service is a flight between two countries operated by a carrier that is not based in either the origin or destination country.
The Milan-New York route has irked some European and American competitors who argue that Emirates should not be allowed to fly the route. Last year, Italian carrier association Assaereo brought a legal challenge against Emirates over the flight in an Italian court that ultimately ruled in favour of the Gulf airline.
Fifth freedom flights into the US from Europe “was never part of our business model,” Clark told reporters at the International Air Transport Association (IATA) annual meet in Miami. But after the success of Milan he said there was a business case for the airline to do more. Clark declined to name which cities had asked Emirates to launch additional the trans-Atlantic flights but said that they are all in the European Union. He said the latest city had asked Emirates on Saturday to consider opening flights.
Emirates is one of three Gulf carriers currently involved in a major spat with the US’ largest airlines who want to halt the growth of the Dubai carrier because they say it’s unfairly state subsidised. Emirates, whichever denies the accusations, is the world’s largest airline by international seating capacity and has mapped out a global network of more than 140 destinations across six contingents that it feeds in and out of its Gulf hub.
Emirates has said it plans to fly to 20 destinations in the US. Earlier this year, it launched its tenth to Orlando, Florida. Clark said in the US the airline will look to add more destinations and expand on frequencies in the immediate future
“There are any number of cities that are ready,” he said.