UPDATE: An Emirates spokesperson reached out to me, stating, “Emirates has no plans to launch services between Athens and Chicago.”
Emirates’ Fifth Freedom flights between Newark and Athens have proved so popular the carrier is looking at another Fifth Freedom route between Athens and Chicago.
Speaking in Athens, Emirates’ Area Manager of Greece and Albania, Khalid Al Zaroon first noted what an unexpected success story Athens has been as an Emirates station:
“Athens is an important destination for Emirates, because of its strong tourism, culture, but also because of the business relationship between the UAE and Greece
The Athens – New York route is a great success story for us. We want to focus on Athens. Indeed, while one would expect that the recent electoral contest would moderate the movement, the opposite has happened.”
He then added that Athens – Chicago is being “considered” as a new destination from Athens.
This sentiment concurs with outgoing Emirates CEO Tim Clark, who also recently expressed interesting in adding Fifth Freedom routes to the USA.
American Airlines added Chicago to Athens service last summer. The seasonal flight utilized a Boeing 787-8 and proved very successful. It will return this summer. Coupled with Emirates success against United in Newark and United’s refusal, thus far, to add its own Chicago to Athens flight, Emirates see an opening.
While the Open Skies agreement between the USA and United Arab Emirates gives Emirates the right to add Fifth Freedom flights between the USA and a third country like Greece, Emirates must also balance that any new Fifth Freedom route will incur the wrath of U.S. airlines, led by Delta.
Delta has vocally attacked Emirates for its New York to Milan route while United has also complained about its Newark to Athens route. A new route announcement could re-open closed wounds and lead to another PR battle. Perhaps that is why Emirates has not made an announcement yet even though the interview took place last autumn.
That Emirates has specifically identified Chicago as a potential new destination from Athens is noteworthy. While it is getting too late to add service for spring or summer of 2020, don’t be surprised if Emirates announces further expansion from Athens this year that may even include the United States.
> Read More: United Airlines Challenges Emirates In Athens