Well well well. In a move that will surely enrage Delta, it seems that a third party airline has moved into another trans-Atlantic route between Europe and the United States.
Together with American and United, Delta led a rather spirited and times vicious lobbying effort against allowing full access of US skies from carriers with ‘inherent benefits’ – i.e. the Middle Eastern big 3 – Emirates, Qatar and Etihad. Despite some very public sparring, some white papers being ‘leaked’ from both sides and several congressional hearings on the matter, the Obama administration’s Department of Transport decided to keep things as is and side with the proposals of the Middle Eastern carriers, much to the chagrin of Delta and the like.
That paved the way for routes very much like this one to be opened. Beneficial in theory for the passenger – not as much for the incumbent US based airlines.
Emirates (EK) have announced a new – very interesting – route from Dubai to Newark’s Liberty International Airport (EWR) via Athens (ATH). The airline will have traffic rights and sell tickets on all sectors, including tickets from Newark to Athens and back. Miles are also redeemable on these services, though it is yet to be seen if JetBlue, Emirates’ de-facto partner and connecting airline in the US will participate in code sharing on this flight.
The lead in time for the commencement of this flight is surprisingly short, with services slated to begin on March 12, less than two months from now. Flights will be daily, with the schedule looking like this:
EK 209: Dep Dubai 10:50 Arr Athens 14:25 / Dep Athens 16:40 Arr Newark 22:00
EK 210: Dep Newark 23:50 Arr Athens 15:05+1 / Dep Athens 17:10 Arr Dubai 23:50
That’s a nice relaxed transit for folks in Athens, and the arrival into Dubai is perfect for one of Emirates’ massive transit banks to points further east.
The flight will be operated by a three class Boeing 777-300ER aircraft with 8 First Class suites, 42 Business Class lie flat beds and 304 seats in Economy Class.
Sir Tim Clark, President of Emirates, had this to add to the announcement of the new services from Greece to the United States:
“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.”
It’s interesting to note that this new flight will be the first full year round service from Athens to the New York area in some years, filling a gap that had been left behind by the collapse of Greece’s Olympic Airways and with United and Delta either going seasonal or pulling out of the market altogether.
Great news for those wanting an easy connection to Greece – you can now fly non-stop! Delta pulled out completely and United teeters between a seasonal summer service on their dreaded 757 or just dropping Athens completely – it’s never a sure deal whenever their schedules for the season are released.
Not only that, you get to be on a 777 rather than a 757, and get treated to Emirates service versus whatever passes as that on United.
Seeing how Emirates’ other Europe-America operation is going, the flight between Milan and New York JFK (which has since been upgraded to the A380 after starting off with the 777), we wouldn’t be surprised to see some great fares and offers for those wanting to terminate their journey in Europe. Likewise, expect deeper discounts to India, Pakistan and Bangladesh given the extra stop in Athens, as EK does with Milan from JFK.
Outside of the summer season when demand drops, definitely be on the prowl for this flight and some incredible deals especially in the First and Business cabins – this would be a great way to get to Europe then hop on a train or short haul low cost flight to get to your final destination be it in Rome, Paris or Madrid. Some backtracking, yes – but much luxury for cheap in exchange.
While we mentioned JetBlue up top from the American side, it’s also yet to be seen how Emirates will code share with Aegean Airlines on this route. Whilst Aegean is a part of Star Alliance, they are also partners with Emirates and have existing partnerships with EK. It might be a good deal to link up with the new Newark route and give passengers affordable access beyond Athens and to the Greek islands on the Mediterranean and indeed possibly even to smaller points in Eastern Europe that Aegean serves. Could be a good link up, so we’ll keep our ears peeled on any developments on that front – that’d be amazing news, especially for United Star Alliance elites based out of Newark.
Overall, this is a great – albeit interesting – development. The Greek market has been a challenging one to and from the United States and this rings true more so now than ever given the state of their economy. Outside of the summer months, we’ll see how loads and yields look – hence the shout out to check out these flights during those times. Given Tim Clark’s comments about the route and the extensive discussions they had with the Greek government prior to launch, we wouldn’t be surprised if EK was receiving some incentives from the European authorities to operate the route. So while maybe not the most viable route across the Atlantic, two important dots have been connected and with some hard work should be able to succeed.
And remember, cheap premium fares to Europe on a world class airline. #benefit.
Jump on to the comments section and let us know if you’d take Emirates up on an offer too good to refuse if it came to pass, or would you stick to your normal mileage run flights on any one of the US big three or their European partners! Kudos to Emirates for thinking outside of the box on this one…the question is, will you?