Non-stop service between the US and Greece is returning thanks to Emirates. The Dubai-based carrier will launch flights between Newark and Athens, continuing to Dubai, on 12 March 2017 with the Boeing 777-300ER aircraft. This marks the first Emirates service to Newark and the second 5th Freedom route the carrier will operate between Europe and the United States (Milan-JFK is the other).
The new flight will almost certainly draw the ire of the legacy US carriers, similarly to the launch of the Milan route in 2013. That flight was the subject of lawsuits and diplomatic wrangling and sits at the center of the US3 v ME3 battle over claims of illegal subsidies and trade treaty violations. In the case of the Milan flight there was direct competition from United, American and Delta. In Athens there is no year-round competition, though United Airlines and Delta Air Lines have recently operated seasonal service. Presumably this route will realize similar protests to the Milan service from the US3.
Sir Tim Clark, President of Emirates Airline said: “The Greek Government and Athens International Airport approached Emirates some time ago to consider serving the route between Athens and New York. After careful review, Emirates concluded that extending one of our Dubai-Athens flights to Newark would be commercially and operationally feasible. 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.”
For travelers between New York and Greece the flight times are desirable. Emirates flight EK209 will depart Dubai at 10:50 local time, arriving in Athens at 14:25 before departing again at 16:40 and arriving into Newark at 22:00 on the same day. The return flight EK210 will depart Newark at 23:45 local time, arriving in Athens the next day at 15:05. EK210 will depart once again from Athens at 17:10 bound for Dubai where it will arrive at 23:50.
Flights between the US and Greece have been sporadic in recent years as the Greek economy struggled. The travel market quickly shifted from a mix of business and leisure to nearly all leisure and VFR passengers with generally tighter budgets. Emirates’ launch of year-round service reverses that course and is arguably possibly only because the carrier operates with lower costs thanks to its base in Dubai. It also has a simple fleet plan, flying only A380s and 777s, which helps control costs. Launching the route with the 777-300ER is more aggressive than other recent US routes that were inaugurated with the –200LR version and nearly 100 fewer seats. Clearly Emirates believes the New York market can support the larger capacity increase.
SkyGreece attempted to bring direct service back in 2015. That operation collapsed after just a couple months of mechanical troubles on its aircraft and minimal revenues.
Header image: An Emirates 777-300ER; image courtesy of the carrier
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