Rumor: Emirates’ Next US Destinations Will Be Phoenix And Buffalo

Filed Under: Emirates

Emirates is one of the world’s fastest growing airlines, and their US route network has continued to grow significantly. Most recently Emirates has announced that they’re launching flights between Dubai and Fort Lauderdale as of next month, which caught many people off guard. However, I can certainly make sense of it, given Emirates’ partnership with JetBlue.

Well, crazy as it may sound, it looks like we now have a hint as to what Emirates’ next US destinations will be. Rumor has it that Emirates will be announcing flights from Dubai to Buffalo and Phoenix shortly.


Emirates’ online routemap shows all the destinations that the airline serves nonstop. Fort Lauderdale showed up as a destination shortly before the route was formally announced, though it has since been removed.

However, when looking at the map you’ll notice that it newly lists both Buffalo and Phoenix as Emirates destinations.



So it sure seems like an announcements of these routes is coming shortly:

  • Phoenix probably doesn’t surprise many people, given that it’s one of the larger US markets that Emirates doesn’t presently serve
  • Buffalo might sound crazy, but it’s right on the border with Canada, and keep in mind that the Canadian government has a very protectionist approach with their airlines, and has greatly limited Gulf carrier expansion in their country; a flight to Buffalo would serve many people living across the border, and also be a way for Emirates to tell the Canadian government how they feel about that policy 😉

The one questionable thing is that the runway in Buffalo is just 8,829 feet long. Based on my research, it looks like a 777 needs just about that much length to take off. So I’m not sure if the flight would be fine as is, if it would need to be weight restricted, or if it would operate via a third city.


Do you think this is website glitch, or could you see Emirates announcing flights to Buffalo and Phoenix?

(Tip of the hat to euroxx)

  1. Buffalo is surprising.

    I get your point about accessing the Canadian market but as they already serve Toronto are they going to cannibalize themselves with Buffalo?

    Also as they partner with Jetblue dont they already have good access to Canadians with service to Buffalo and Burlington?

  2. Buffalo is a proxy for Toronto. Ask the Buffalo Airport for stats about their passengers. They have the data. The percentage of passengers beginning a trip in BUF who live outside the USA is higher than at any other airport in the USA.

    And ask any airline about landing fees in YYZ. It’s the highest in North America, one of the highest in the world.

    Emirates will probably get respectable loads on this route and I’ll bet at least two-thirds of pax will live in Southern Ontario, in Toronto or its suburbs.

  3. @ Alex — The problem with their existing flight to Toronto is that they’re heavily restricted on the number of frequencies they operate. They’re not even allowed to operate the flight daily, or operate to more Canadian cities.

  4. Buffalo? As in Buffalo, New York? I mean, really? Buffalo? This wouldn’t be nearly as easy as trying to use Milwaukee as Chicago’s 3rd Airport. The whole separate countries, border crossing, 2+ hour drive between Toronto and Buffalo, etc. would make this a giant pain in the ass

  5. What’s surprising to me is that more airlines don’t use BUF as a substitute for YYZ, right off the top each passenger saves $50-100 just in taxes. This also makes sense in Y given the size of the Toronto South Asian diaspora, their price sensitivity, and the focus of the ME3 on capturing that destination.

  6. No direct flight to Dallas from BUF but how about Dubai? I kinda checked the date on this post, makes sense in all hilarity.

  7. Buffalo, NY?! Really?! OMG that’s where I live right now and i have not seen any scheduled international flight from here other than charters to Cancun or somewhere like that…any I can tell from the statistic and the accessibility that there are a lot of Canadians originate their trip from BUF and fly elsewhere, given the fact that several bus company even have direct service between Buffalo Airport and downtown Toronto, but not vice versa, between YYZ and Buffalo…it’s kind of pain in the ass when I wanna fly to Europe to Toronto as I always have to spend a lot of time going to downtown Buffalo from Amherst, take a bus to downtown Toronto and then take either the UP Express or Uber to YYZ…such a hassle…I’ll be the first one to take their BUF flight if they ever decide to start this service….

  8. @lucky thanks for clarifying. Makes sense with limited frequency from Toronto. That said, with our onerous visa process, would it be worth it for say, a Pakistani/Indian/Emerati citizen in Canada on a student visa to deal with the US visa process just to save a few hundred dollars to take Emirates out of Buffalo?

    For Canadian citizens on leisure fares, this makes sense.

  9. I still can’t believe they haven’t started flying to Detroit. It’s got a huge Middle Eastern community. Is it because Delta owns this market?

  10. Lucky,
    Buffalo makes perfect sense. The Buffalo airport is packed with Canadian flyers due to better pricing and availability. Currently 35-40% of all airport flyers are Canadian. The border crossing experience is very simple and there are fast track lanes to move people through quickly. The US Dollar and competition have resulted in great options for both US and Canadian customers. The Emirates flight will do well here.

  11. It looks like emirates is starting to launch service to any city that has a large jetblue feed. It will cut out jetblue and let Emirates pocket the money

  12. @lucky @Alex There’s huge demand from Toronto, especially in competition on flights to India (probably trying to push AC’s expansion on Dehli and Mumbai flights). Since they can’t add frequency to YYZ (I think their capped at 3x weekly), Buffalo is the next best thing.

    The spat over landing rights for the ME3 got so heated in the past that the Emirati government revoked Canada’s access to it’s forward operating base in the Emirates:

  13. I live in Toronto and flying out of Buffalo is a major hassle. It is at least a 2 hour drive and you need to factor in up to 1 hour delays for the border which can be quite backed up during long weekends and major holidays. Flying out of Buffalo can make some sense for people as they can access low cost US airlines but it hardly makes any sense when travelling overseas to a non-US destination. Even for a $200 saving it is not worth the hassle, but I can see how for a family of 4 the savings can really add up.

  14. I just looked at the route network as well. the North America map shows Buffalo and Phoenix as you point out. But Fort Lauderdale isn’t on there. Maybe it’s just a glitch?

  15. The reality is that EK traffic is almost entirely driven by Indians (or “subcontinent” for those that insist on political correctness – and those of you that are, please now stop referring to anything to do with the “US” as such and say “North America” – now you see your stupidity?).

    There are lots of Indians in Ontario – ever see how many Indian restaurants there are in Niagara Falls? Or how 25%+ of people at Niagara Falls are Indian? Or how the GTA is full of Indians?

    There are lots of people who will drive down to BUF if EK prices well.

    All that said, kudos to AC for rocking it on YYZ – DEL, YVR – DEL, and now YYZ – BOM. The way you fight the ME3 is by going straight to India and making DXB, DOH, and AUH useless.

  16. @Alex – Emirati citizens? Do you know any? They have almost 0 reason to leave their homeland. There is almost 0 Emirati diaspora.

  17. Denver Mayor Michael Hancock has been aggressively pursuing Emirates for two years, yet they might go into PHX before DEN??? I’ve always understood the argument that Emirates doesn’t have many partner routes for connections in DEN (2 B6 routes to BOS and JFK, 1 AK route to SEA, and 1 VX to SFO). However, these issues are even more prevalent at BUF and PHX. WTF???

  18. @ryan, @alan – why would Den be a good fit? Unless Frontier decides to partner with a Gulf carrier it really makes no sense. Do you think there’s enough originating traffic? I’d think Vegas before Den…

  19. I am surprised by this, but also very surprised that none of the major Gulf carriers has yet begun flights to Detroit, a market that is big anyway, but also very big for travel to the Middle East and beyond to India. I realize DL/KL/AF are quite strong there, but nonetheless, there is room–and some long haul competition would be nice. (Of course, Royal Jordanian does fly to DTW, though not even daily.)

    Any thoughts on this?

  20. Buffalo and Phoenix are codeshare destinations with JetBlue. Are we sure that isn’t the mistake – a couple codeshare destinations got added as own-metal on the map?

    A Buffalo – Dubai flight would be so damn absurdly wonderful, but checking out the other (more simple) explanation.

  21. Fort Lauderdale still shows on emirates city guides plus it does make sense for the route to be launched and it wouldn’t be so difficult to launch such as the case with panama so I don’t think emigrates just discarded it. So Fort Lauderdale not being on the map doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t be launched. Maybe it’s a glitch. As to why Phoenix and buffalo show I think Phoenix makes sense to some extent but buffalo I don’t know. Unless they are targeting Canadian people but not local traffic.

  22. They might be considering Niagara Falls airport (IAG), which is less then 8 miles to the Lewiston Queenston Bridge and can handle any size aircraft. The downside to IAG aiport is no JetBlue connections, but if this is truly for the Canadian market, then that might not matter as much.

  23. Emirates here in BUF? Great! Give me a quick tutorial in their mileage program!
    Seriously, as Greg has said, it’s probably a codeshare with JetBlue .

  24. I’m from BUF as well. Are you sure they will be adding BUF as a destination? I never seen a 777 here for commercial service, but we get them for charters.

  25. Would be cool if they did the BUF route via a European city. BUF needs a European route more than one to the Middle East.
    Any opinions on what city in Europe BUF would benefit on having a non-stop to? Let me know…
    Twitter: @Syracuse_AvGeek

  26. I’ve read all the comments and talked myself into this idea… again… guy from Buffalo (living in CLT). Could Emirates operate a 788 on this route? Seems like it would need less runway than a 77W, but i don’t know the exact length required. It would also provide more flexibility to scheduling with the lessened capacity.

    Also worth noting, it would be frustrating to see BUF get a 787 route to Europe before CLT.

  27. Why are people shocked that PHX would get an Emirates flight before DEN? The PHX metro area is larger than DEN and I can’t imagine that the South Asian/Middle Eastern numbers are drastically different.

  28. For some it makes good sense to spend two to three hours to drive down to BUF than spend the same amount of time in transit in FRA, AMS, or LHR if the price is competitive.

  29. This is great news…EK only flies 3x a week from YYZ. I have flown on Porter to NY to connect from JFK on EK…This route means I can drive to Buffalo, clear quickly through Nexus Lanes, park at Buffalo and fly on EK..Also bet the availability through Alaska using Alaska Miles will be better from BUF than from YYZ.

  30. This is pure conjecture, but I live in the DEN area and there have been a couple of things hinting that EK might come here. Local TV has been showing the new Jennifer Anniston ads for EK, when there never was a TV ad presence outside of cable TV. And my brother was in Dubai and saw a delegation from Denver there. He chatted them up and said that there is hope that within 18 months EK will come to DEN. The pressing issue is the aircraft type due to the hot and high conditions, so they think it would stick to a 777.

  31. Very interesting development. As a Toronto resident it makes perfect sense why Emirates would fly to Buffalo. I don’t think it will be a non stop route though as Buffalo doesn’t have the appropriate infrastructure for customs and immigration. I expect it to be a one stop direct flight from a city with US preclerance (Dublin, Sweden even maybe Montreal?). If not then I expect them to add a leg from their JFK or BOS flights to fly to BUF (codesharing with B6)

  32. Sure hope Phx is not a mistake. Excluding Americas and Caribbean we only have one international flight out of here and that is on an ancient BA 747…. not a whole lot of options for a supposedly ‘international ‘ airport. Pity it’s not a 1W airline but I’ll take it if it’s true

  33. Buffalo is completely fine. Emirates flies the 777-300ER to Birmingham which is only 8,527ft, so Buffalo should be good.

  34. I just flew out of BUF 2 days ago. The majority of people on my DL flight were from Canada. MegaBus is only $25-35 to Toronto, and there’s a lot of people in southern Ontario who aren’t living in the GTA.

    There’s a possibility that it might be IAG (Niagara Falls Airport) instead of BUF (Buffalo-Niagara International). IAG has a ~10,000 ft runway, is closer to Toronto and practically charges nothing for landing fees.

    They built a new terminal in 2009, but DirectAir folded and the terminal has been getting minimal use from Spirit & Allegiant ever since.

  35. BUF is going to be a stretch, by any stretch. The strong USD and weak CAD, combined with greater competition out of YYZ and decreased competition in the US market, have lead to BUF not being nearly the deal it used to be. It has been close to two years since I used BUF at all, when I formerly used it at at least 10 times per year. For people as far north as Hamilton, BUF presents a decent value proposition, simply because it isn’t much farther than YYZ and traffic is substantially better, but it just isn’t the same deal it once was for people in most of the GTA and in KW/Cambridge.

    Further, the short runway is a major issue, as is gate usage and FIS capacity. I’ve not heard that BUF is undertaking an expansion of their FIS, which they would need to do for such a large aircraft coming through regularly. In fact, I think BUF doesn’t even have permanent CBP staff – I believe they come in from the land border. As for the comparison to BHX, it isn’t one. BUF-DXB is nearly twice the distance as BHX-DXB.

    This is almost certainly a codeshare. PHX is a little more likely, though I’m not sure that would work either.

  36. In the travel industry, BUF has long been referred to as “Toronto Pearson Terminal 4” so it’s not a stretch to think any carrier might operate there with the Toronto/Hamilton/Niagara market as their principal target. I, for one, believe that EK (and/or EY who also operates into Toronto 3x/week, representing 6x/week flights between Canada and the UAE, which is how these types of agreements are structured) could fill at least daily, if not more frequent, A380/777 flights. Flipside, as has been mentioned, is that the change in the CAD/USD exchange rate and increasing pain/delays at the land border makes flying into/out of BUF less attractive than it had been previously. But, there are still a lot of Canadians in Southern Ontario for whom BUF is a closer/easier option than YYZ so it wouldn’t shock me to see it happen – presuming the operational issues around runway length, CBP staff on-site (I don’t think they normally have any at BUF?) etc. were addressed.

  37. I really think the operational issues at BUF would be the biggest things to deal with. If they flew a 77L, they probably could deal with the runway issue, but they would also be limiting growth and flexibility on some routes. CBP would be a real challenge, because I don’t think BUF has a terminal FIS, instead using one of those shed type things near an FBO, and the staffing comes from the much busier land border. Also, I do think the actual drawing area would be all that attractive. The Toronto suburbs and exurbs that are nearer BUF are not all that ethnically diverse. Hamilton, Burlington, St. Catharines and Niagara don’t have the same diversity that Waterloo Region, Wellington, Halton and Peel do.

  38. any update to this rumor. now that emirates is cutting service to US may 1st onward there less chance of this happening.

  39. Alex, The Phoenix Sky Harbor Facebook page just posted an inquiry to the public asking people about their travels to and from the Indian subcontinent/Middle East/Africa/Asia and that they want to pass on the data to airlines. I could only imagine that they would be talking about ME3 and hopefully Emirates.

  40. I know the BUF airport very well. I have talked to many workers that work there and they said the only aircraft the runways cannot accomadate is the A380. Throughout the years, I have seen lots of 777 charters and a few 747’s. Buffalo can certainly support these aircrafts. As we all know, Buffalo is becoming a bigger city and is starting to thrive again. This could even lead to a new terminal and more international flights and airlines. Possibly 787’s by 2020 is what they told me when I asked. And we could definitely use a runway extension, but the only problem with that is that the airport is built in the middle of a neighborhood. It will be extremely hard to come up with an extension. More and more people are moving to Buffalo and and many Canadiens like you have said, use KBUF as an airport to use instead of Toronto Pearson. A second terminal would be great with some heavies. Buffalo deserves it, and it would be beneficial. However, Dubai down not seem like it would be realistic. Buffalo needs more flights to European cities. On that note, who agrees?

  41. The issue at Buffalo is not just the runway length, but the distance the aircraft has to fly and performance needed. Also, the current passenger facilities aren’t sufficient for a 777, let alone an A380, to operate regular flights. They would need to build a new, real FIS.

    As for Europe, forget about it. BDL will get more service before BUF gets anything. Also, when you have cities like CLE and STL with no real Euro service, combined with the proximity to YYZ, it just isn’t a priority. Further, BUF has tons of connecting opportunities.

  42. Wow I was not expecting Buffalo, but I live in Buffalo and I’m used to just seeing Delta, JetBlue, and American but Why Emerates? At first I thought it was because Niagara Falls which is about 30 min. away from Buffalo. This flight will let Indian and Chinese people to get to Niagara falls easier as well as other people around the world. The only international flights that Buffalo has are seasonal flights to Mexico, Dominican Republic, and to Canada. There is a few problems though. First the runway is a little to short, second there is no official customs area, and third the airport is sometimes closed because of the snow. If Emerates did fly to Buffalo the airport will have to do some expansion and it will be more convenient for some people because it is closer to Niagara Falls than Toronto and it will be easier for people in the area to go to that region.

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