Emirates President Suggests Return Of Germany-USA Flights

Speaking at the Berlin Airshow, Tim Clark, chairman of Emirates, said the airline was considering fifth freedom flights between Germany and the United States. He has a story: he flew Dubai-Hamburg-New York JFK until early 2008. Now he flies Dubai-Milan-JFK. But as mentioned in the context of the lack of traffic rights for Dubai-Berlin, could Clark just pretend?

No traffic rights in Berlin, so…

Emirates remains true to its desire to serve Berlin. It is not difficult to understand why. Despite the lack of non-stop service, booking data shows that more than 70,000 return passengers flew indirectly between Dubai and the German capital in 2019. This means Berlin was Europe’s largest unserved market.


If those traveling from Berlin to Asia-Pacific, southern and eastern Africa and the wider Middle East are added, there were more than 2.5 million. If it were possible, Emirates would serve Berlin at least twice a day, but it is not possible. This is due to a lack of air traffic rights, which limits the carrier to four cities in Germany, which it already uses.

To serve Berlin, he would have to give up one of the four, which he refused to do. Or, much more preferentially for Emirates, he hopes to convince the German government to ease market access, which he has refused to do, mainly, according to Clark, because of lobbying by Lufthansa. The standoff means Emirates is unable to expand in Germany by adding more cities.

In response, and in what might just be a bargaining tactic, Clark suggested he might fly from Germany to the United States again on a fifth freedom basis. This could be from Dusseldorf, Frankfurt (main Lufthansa hub), Hamburg or Munich (second largest Lufthansa hub).

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Emirates flies to four German airports

Emirates has served Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg and Munich for many years. The most recent route to start was Hamburg, which took off on a 1x daily basis 16 years ago in March 2006. It quickly increased to 2x daily with the addition of an additional Dubai-Hamburg- JFK, although JFK didn’t last long.

In the week beginning June 24, 2022, Emirates’ German network is next. It has 5 daily flights, half of what it had the same week in 2019. Cirium shows it lost five daily flights and 2,258 seats each way every day. However, flights and capacity are increasing again from July, although still well below previous levels.

  1. Dubai to Dusseldorf: 1x daily A380; instead of 2x daily A380
  2. Dubai to Frankfurt: 2x daily (1x A380, 1x B777-300ER); down 3x a day (2x A380, 1x B777-300ER)
  3. Dubai to Hamburg: 1x daily A380; down 2x a day (1x A380, 1x B777-300ER)
  4. Dubai to Munich: 1x daily A380; instead of 3x per day (2x A380, 1x B777-300ER

In the coming week, Emirates will use the A380 on four of its five flights within Germany. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Single flight.

A glimpse of his Hamburg-JFK operation

Emirates operated a Dubai-Hamburg-JFK return flight between October 2006 and March 2008. Operating once daily, EK205 departed Dubai at 08:55 and arrived in Hamburg at 12:55. After 1h 45m on the ground, it left at 2:40 p.m. and arrived at JFK at 5:30 p.m.

Returning, EK206 departed at 11:15 p.m., arrived in Hamburg the following morning at 12:05 p.m., left at 1:45 p.m. and returned at 11:25 p.m. It has been designed to feed and be powered by Emirates peak waves to/from Asia-Pacific.

Department of Transport data shows that Emirates had an average load factor of just 58% on Hamburg-JFK-Hamburg. This adds weight to the short duration of the route and the fact that it ended during “economic reasons.”

Several airlines on Hamburg-New York

Many airlines have tried the Hamburg-New York route over the years. For example, Lufthansa served Newark (March 1990-October 1992), followed by Continental (from June 2005) and then United (until October 2018). During this time, JFK saw LTU (May 1990-October 1990), Pan Am (until October 1991), Delta (November 1991-October 1995), then Emirates 11 years later.

While booking data indicates that Hamburg-New York is the largest unserved market between Europe and New York, there has been no nonstop service since 2008. The problem is not traffic: approx. 119,000 flew indirectly in 2019. Instead, that’s partly because it’s dominated by Lufthansa and the wider Star Alliance (~60% of passengers) and, more importantly, because fares don’t are not advantageous, with an average one-way fare of $408 (excluding fuel surcharge). This is still less than Shannon-New York, although Hamburg travels a quarter of a mile further.

Do you think Emirates will operate Germany again with the United States? If so, what routing would you like to see? Given his spat with Lufthansa, it would be even funnier if it was from Frankfurt or Munich. Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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