Emirates Considering Hamburg To New York Fifth Freedom Flight

Filed Under: Emirates

In 2006, Emirates began operating a daily fifth freedom flight from Hamburg to New York, using a Boeing 777-300ER aircraft.

Unfortunately the route has since been discontinued, though Emirates does operate some other fifth freedom flights to the US, including from Athens to Newark, and from Milan to New York JFK.

It seems like an additional fifth freedom flight to the US is under consideration. Hamburg has a new mayor who recently visited the UAE, and met with Emirates president Tim Clark.

One of the topics of conversation was Emirates restarting flights between Hamburg and New York:

  • The Hamburg mayor is in favor of the route, since currently Hamburg has very few transatlantic links in spite of being Germany’s second largest city
  • Tim Clark says that Emirates could operate the route profitably
  • Emirates already flies twice daily between Dubai and Hamburg, once with an A380 and once with a 777-300ER, so this would be an easy enough extension

The big problem here is the challenges that Emirates will have with regulators in both the US and Germany:

  • Germany has extremely protectionist aviation policies, making it hard for the Gulf carriers to expand there
  • For years the US & Gulf carriers were in a dispute, though a resolution was reached in mid-2018; one of the conditions was that Emirates was unaware of any immediate plans to start additional fifth freedom flights to the US

The second point is of course an interesting one. Emirates didn’t say they wouldn’t launch additional fifth freedom flights to the US, but rather that at the time they didn’t have any plans to.

However, from their perspective it may very well make sense to lay low for a bit and not ruffle any feathers, and wait 2-6 years until there’s a new administration. Obama never took action against the Gulf carriers, while there’s probably a bit more risk right now with Trump’s “America first” agenda.

I also think that perhaps that Hamburg mayor is a bit optimistic if he thinks he can just “have a talk” with German regulators to get this route approved for Emirates on their end.

Bottom line

It’s nice to hear that a Hamburg to New York flight is under consideration, and that Clark thinks it could be profitable and Hamburg’s mayor is in favor of it. However, I fear this is a decision that’s likely over their heads. I can’t imagine this would be approved by German regulators, and even from Emirates’ perspective this may not be the time to do this in the US.

But maybe this could happen a couple of years down the road?

What do you make of Emirates’ interest in relaunching a Hamburg to New York flight?

  1. If United can’t make EWR-HAM work with a 757-200, I’m not sure about Emirates using a larger plane on the same route…

  2. It’s only a matter of time before Ed Bastian or somebody from Delta throws a temper tantrum over this…

  3. @chub Emirates is the only one who made the A380 work, if anything they should have the most experience working with large capacity aircraft on thinner routes.

  4. Hamburg is the 2nd biggest city, but 5th largest metro region which is far more important for considering flight demand. In terms of regional “EMR” for Germany it ranks 7th.

    Same applies in the USA. Cities aren’t defined consistently. Jacksonville, FL is “bigger” than San Francisco, but there are ~6x the people in the greater Bay Area than the greater Jacksonville Area.

    Just saying I also don’t see high demand for this route.

  5. I wonder whether the JetBlue codeshares are a factor in this potential flight. I am taking the Singapore fifth freedom flight (JFK-FRA) but if I had the choice at the time I booked I probably would have booked JFK-HAM on Emirates, I am not normally a fan 2x business class seating but I sleep great on Emirates 777-300s.

  6. Why wouldn’t EK get the necessary approval for the route given that they already had it?

    Plus I assume the route wasn’t that successful that’s why they stopped operating it in the first place.

  7. Despite expect financial warnings, seems like gulf carriers is still playing with their money. It’s 2019, make sure your routes are sustainable and making profit or else you’ll be out of game shortly. Emirates used to fly 5x daily from Dubai (SYD, MEL, BNE, DPS, nonstop) to Auckland and now? 1-2x daily only (nonstop and seasonal DPS), because fifth freedom don’t make money at all. #MAGA

  8. Hi Ivan, fifth freedom basically means an airline (based in home country A) has pick-up rights of pax (maybe also cargo) for a third destination when operating a tag-on flight from B to C.

    For instance most Gulf carriers do so to quite a few places, but there is also LATAM in Europe flying an extension from SCL > MAD > FRA. Hope this helps. Moreover, SWISS has a beautiful chart, though I don’t know if I can put any links here:


  9. The UAE has 5th freedom rights out of Germany. Didn’t they operate this route before.

    Anyone comparing EK to UA … smh. Most people will drop LH via FRA for EK, but will double connect to avoid UA. The route will work.

    UA dropped the route, so its not “hurting” them.

    Cant wait for Delta to screeeeeeeeeeaaaaam like babies next week. Nice!!

  10. [email protected] Chub

    Uniteds product was just bad! Thats why everybody with brains flew via FRA, MUC or ARN/CPH to the states.
    I did the trip twice. That was the time I learned to hate United.
    Please let this come true…..

  11. Emirates would make it profitable for sure.
    1. Uniteds image is bad because of some videos:
    2. Emirates’ image is very good in the world. They often drive to many smaller cities. At least with the B777 – and it seems to work!
    3. Emirates is very popular in Hamburg because of the route to Dubai, the home of Airbus and the Hamburger SV.
    I have no doubt, that it will work for emirates.

  12. I remember that route ended back in 2008 so it lasted for 2 years. Back then I felt they ended the route since EK started flying the A380 the same year and it was, as we all know now, the start of the recession.

  13. I think EK should be content with the Open Skies agreement between the US and Dubai. Launching new 5th freedom routes from Europe to the USA is going to cause ire with the US3, and rightly or wrongly, why poke the US bear? Not to mention the German one? The USA is very generous in allowing EK unlimited flights to the USA – say compared to Canada – why would you implement a route that EK could/does fly nonstop via Germany? Sounds like their growth model is conflicted. Unless management is willing to gamble their nonstop USA-DXB Open Skies – this just doesn’t seem like a worthwhile risk.

  14. Well United’s offer was extremely unpopular due to extremely old planes without modern amenitites and with a frequent need to refuel in the westward direction. On-board service also was uncomparable to Lufthansa, so people preferred to fly via FRA.

    Regarding the regulators, i think this is not a problem. The predecessor of our current mayor is now part of the government.
    On the other hand it may be possible that Eurowings may start such a service from Hamburg.

  15. @Alex thank you for mentioning the metro area vs. city limits issue. Always drives me crazy when I hear people say things like San Antonio or Phoenix or some other mid-sized city like that is one of the 5 largest in the U.S. We should really be talking about metro area size, in which a city like San Antonio drops from 7th largest city to the 24th largest metro. Or a place like Atlanta which is only the 38th largest city due to relatively small physical size, but the 9th largest metro.

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