United Says Emirates Testing Trump w/ Newark-Athens, $25M-$30M Loss Annually on Route

Earlier this week, United President Scott Kirby said that the new Emirates Newark – Athens flight which begins tomorrow will lose $25 – $30 million annually. He also thinks that the flight, which was announced just three days after Trump took office, is a test of the new administration:

“It feels like a test of the political will of the United States to see what the Trump administration will do.”

Emirates plans to operate the flight year-round, a decision that Kirby says makes absolutely no business sense. According to the United president, the route is profitable in the summer, but in the winter there’s no more than 100 passengers a day (and some of those will connect instead of taking the non-stop flight), yet Emirates will be flying a B777 with the capacity for 354 passengers.

“If they got 100% of the market, which of course they won’t, that’s less than a third of the seats on the airplane,” Kirby said. “That’s evidence that they are not focused on profitability. They are just focused on flying the airplane somewhere and having the government subsidize it.”

He says that this route is a huge test as if it’s allowed to continue operating, it could mark the end of United’s international model as they won’t be able to compete with a “government sponsored airline”.

“This isn’t just about Newark-Athens, it’s about our entire international franchise. If Emirates can come in and lose significant amounts of money, and the government will make up their losses, it’s not fair competition. If they’re allowed to fly this route, there will be more to come.”

It was quite the surprise back in January when I woke up to an email from Emirates announcing their new year-round daily New York Newark – Athens flight beginning March 12th. Delta and United both already offer seasonal service from the New York area.

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Delta’s 2017 flights launch from JFK on April 20th, while United’s Newark service is set to begin May 24th. Those flights both depart around 5:40pm New York time. Beginning, June 1st Delta will operate twice daily service from JFK to Athens, something they’ve done over the past two summers. An A330-300 will depart at 5:03pm, while a B767-4 will leave at 7:30pm.

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Due to the onwards flights to/from Dubai, the Emirates Newark flight will depart quite a bit later at 11:45pm, but it will also leave Athens to return back to Newark much later than Delta or United at 5:30pm come the peak summer season. Comparing prices for a June 1 – June 12 trip, Emirates of course beats both Delta and United. Expect the boys in Atlanta to be quite vocal about the addition of another transatlantic flight from Emirates…

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These flights are bookable via Alaska’s Mileage Plan, though their pricing for Business and First is prohibitive. Economy should price at 47,500 each way.

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The flight will be operated with a 3 class B777-300ER, which offers the same service and amenities as the A380, though sans bar and showers. See:

Emirates will be the only carrier offering daily year-round service to Athens from JFK.

Emirates today announced it will launch a new daily service from Dubai to Newark Liberty International Airport, via the Greek capital city of Athens, starting on 12 March 2017.

The new route complements Emirates’ existing four daily flights between Dubai and New York’s JFK airport, by offering global travellers with another convenient access point to the popular New York Metropolitan area.

Emirates’ new Dubai-Athens-Newark flight will also provide a year-round non-stop daily service between the United States and Greece – a service that does not exist today and has not existed since 2012. The airline will operate a wide-body Boeing 777-300ER powered by General Electric GE90 engines on the route, offering 8 seats in First, 42 seats in Business and 304 seats in Economy class, as well as 19 tonnes of belly-hold cargo capacity.

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.”

Sir Tim added: “The availability of high quality, daily international air services is essential for the development of business and cultural ties. Trade, especially in high-value and time-sensitive products, will be facilitated by the ample cargo capacity on Emirates’ Boeing 777 aircraft. We also expect tourism to receive a major boost from the availability of daily flights year-round.”

Elena Kountoura, Minister of Tourism of the Hellenic Republic said: “Within the framework of our excellent cooperation, and in line with our common goal for the growth of tourism between our two countries as well as the expansion to long-haul markets, I would like to thank Emirates for having positively considered our request to launch a new Emirates itinerary connecting Dubai with New York via Athens all year round. This strategic choice substantially supports our efforts at the Ministry of Tourism to enhance the already increasing flow of visitors to Greece from the United States and the UAE on a yearly basis, travelling either for leisure or business purposes.”

Flight details and connections to Emirates’ global network

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, facilitating convenient onward connections to over 50 Emirates destinations in India, the Far East and Australia.

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