Judge Blocks Emirates’ Mexico City Flight

Filed Under: Emirates

Update: Emirates has now formally received permission to operate this flight.

Well this isn’t good. Emirates has spent years trying to get permission to launch flights between Dubai and Mexico City via Barcelona. The airline had finally received approval from the Mexican government for the route, and was supposed to launch flights in December (flights have been on sale since July).

However, now it looks like this flight won’t be happening after all.

Mexico Judge Blocks Emirates’ New Flight

El Universal is reporting that a judge has ruled in favor of Aeromexico in blocking Emirates’ right to fly between Barcelona and Mexico City with pick-up rights. This overturns the air services agreement that had been signed between the governments of Mexico and the UAE.

With this ruling, Emirates is no longer allowed to launch this flight. As of this moment the flight continues to be on sale, but then again this ruling was just made.

I’m also not sure if this can be overturned by a higher judge, or exactly what kind of an appeal option there is. It’s pretty rare to see a judge overturn an air services agreement signed between two countries, though.

Mexico City, Mexico

Why Is This Flight So Controversial?

Emirates has been wanting to launch flights to Mexico City for years. The problem stemmed from a nonstop flight between Dubai and Mexico City not being possible, due to the high altitude of Mexico City Airport.

In early 2018 it looked like Emirates had found a way to make the route work, as they announced that they intended to fly between Dubai and Mexico City as of late 2018. The plan was for the service to be operated via Barcelona in both directions, and Emirates would have pick-up rights there.

While it looked like this would happen for a long time, in September 2018 there was some bad news, as Emirates canceled plans for this route.

Why? Because Mexico wouldn’t grant Emirates slots to operate the flights on a daily basis. Rather they could only get permission to operate the flight 3x weekly, and Emirates didn’t find that to be worthwhile.

The airline said that they still hoped to operate the route at some point in the future, but realized it wouldn’t be happening anytime soon. Then in late December 2018 it was announced that the route was under consideration again, as talks between the two countries progressed regarding this.

Finally an air services agreement was signed between Mexico and the UAE, and the flights went on sale. Emirates intends to fly daily from Dubai to Barcelona to Mexico City using a Boeing 777-200LR.

Emirates’ 777-200LR business class

Aeromexico (of which Delta is a shareholder) has been staunchly opposed to this new route, and has been doing everything in their power to prevent it… and it seems that they’ve been successful.

Bottom Line

A Mexican judge has ruled against Emirates being able to fly between Barcelona and Mexico City with pick-up rights. As of now the flight is still on sale, though it sounds like it might be pulled shortly, assuming there’s no decent chance of being able to appeal.

It seems like Aeromexico’s lobbying has worked here, as it’s surprising to see a judge overturn an air services agreement between two countries in this way.

(Tip of the hat to Juan)

  1. This is a great win for the free market! Aeromexico is not able to make money on these flights during the winter, so they only operate it seasonally. Without being subsidized by the UAE, there is no way that Emirates would have made a profit by dumping more capacity on the route and operating these flights year-round.

  2. agree with @Robert. Not every word needs to be capitalized point being ‘New’. Otherwise the title sounds like they wanted to operate to New Mexico, US as opposed to their new Mexico City flight.

  3. I am not sure if this is eclusively aimed at Emirates or a Delta attempt to block the route. I seem to remember China Southern not being able to get Fifth Freedom Rights for their CAN-YVR-MEX route a few years back and CZ is/was a Delta partner.

  4. Both airlines are in the wrong. Aeroméxico should let competition in and if they’re so worried and intimidated by an airline that provides a higher level of service and product then Aeroméxico Should up its game too and improve their Costumer experience and onboard product to better compete with airlines like Emirates.

    On the other hand Emirates shouldn’t be so opportunistic either. If they originally wanted non stop flights between Dubai and Mexico City then this means two things. 1) there is actual demand between Mexico City and Dubai. And 2) since there is demand according to them, then they don’t need pick up rights in Barcelona. But reality is that there is probably not a lot of demand between Mexico and the middle east so Emirates is using the high altitude in Mexico City as an excuse to stop in Barcelona and get pick up rights along the way. The reality is they need those pick up rights to make the route work between Mexico City and Barcelona and Barcelona to Dubai with only a minimum of the passengers on board actually flying all the way through to Dubai from Mexico.

    If Emirates wants to lunch this route without controversy then they should give up their Pick up rights in Barcelona and sell tickets only between Mexico city and Dubai. And using Barcelona solely as a refueling stop. After all there is demand between Mexico and Dubai. Right?

  5. @Bernardo I agree. If there is actually demand between Mexico City and Dubai, Emirates should operate the MEX-BCN-DXB flight without pickup rights and with only a short tech stop to refuel. They could operate DXB-MEX nonstop, since DXB is not at altitude.

  6. Mexico’s Transportation Secretary just said EK has legal rights to operate the route, and that they support service to start in December

  7. Total idiocy that will end up hurting both countries financially. Screw Aero Mexico and their crooked lobby.

  8. @George While that would not be unheard of, I don’t think that is the case here. Just yesterday the majority in the Senate was looking to pass a resolution asking the Transportation Ministry to block Emirates from operating in the country. Pilots unions in both Mexico and Spain oppose this plan as well.

    Also, keep in mind that this is an initial court resolution and Emirates has ten days to appeal, which they have announced they will.

  9. Delta is behind this. Do not think for a second that they do not have powerful lawyers in Mexico along with Aeromexico.

  10. As others have said, asking for pickup rights in BCN just proves this isn’t really about connecting Mexico to the middle east. It’s about competing against AM on BCN-MEX. Just compare DXB-MEX vs DXB-BCN-MEX on a great circle map and BCN is clearly not the most convenient location for a fuel stop. Turkish Airlines operates TK181 as IST-MEX on the outbound and MEX-CUN-IST on the return with no local traffic in Mexico. Hainan does a similar stop in TIJ for their MEX-PEK flights. Anyone really needing to travel to DXB from MEX has numerous one-stop options across several airlines anyway.

  11. @George
    I think chances are about 99-100%. “Slip” under the table is not, however, very likely…more like “lugged” or “carted” or “crated” under the table, given the amount of money to be made by keeping EK out. And, almost certainly, far more than a single person, whatever his or her position, received something in order to pay for a “refresco” for their trouble and support.

    The TK flight to IST from CDMX (Ciudad de México, the Spanish “new” name for the Capital for a couple years or more, now) is a joke…even Google flights never shows it, routing people through IAH on UA and then TK to IST. On the return originating flight, TK non-stop occasionally shows up.

  12. This is outrageous. Aeromexico should be ashamed of themselves. Both Mexico and the UAE have signed an agreement and this agreement should be honored.

  13. @Bernardo, spot on. The great circle route DXB-MEX passes over Oslo, so they should have filed for a pit stop (and 5th freedom if they wanted to) at OSL, or CPH. But I guess there’s not much demand for Scandinavia-MEX traffic.

    I’m sure Delta is behind the objection/lawsuit. They’re rank hypocrites in many respects but on this one they’re right.

  14. One bit that folks seem to have missed: there are few non-stop flights between MEX and BCN and vv. I believe there are three a week, although I find the schedule frequently changes. And no, Aeromexico is no service-related threat to Emirates, so I can imagine many people choosing the latter no matter their patriotic loyalty.
    Second, I think many Americans miss how profoundly disliked are stop-overs in the US. Transiting passengers are not treated well at all. Everyone is dealt with like a suspected terrorist. Most international fliers are not accustomed to that in their own country. Even the chance that Aeromexico would be routed via Atlanta or Miami is off-putting.

  15. @Cassandra there are not “ a few non stop services”. There’s only a seasonal Aeromexico flight Alternatively people need to change en route – via Madrid , Atlanta , Amsterdam , Paris etc

    Although if you predict anything we will not refuse to believe you – I assume you know the story behind your name 🙂

    @UNOS ciudad de Mexico is what they say in Spanish. Or simply D.F. As well as CDMX. Nothing new

  16. @Duncan it has nothing to do with distance but with take off weight at high altitude with a plane full of fuel, cargo and people. the plane would not be able to take off from mexico city

  17. Judge breaking an international agreement, inflicting large financial loss to parties involved. Shows why Mexico govt is a laughing stock. Mexico govt is clearly not to be trusted…

  18. @Cassandra
    Avoiding a stopover in the usa was my primary reason for embracing the Emirates MEX-BCN-DXB route. And also the fact I like flying Emirates.

    I’m based out of Mexico city and this route would have been perfect. I have a scheduled Emirates flights in a few weeks. But, I have to fly Delta from Mexico City to the U.S. and then fly Emirates from LAX to DXB. Such a hassle! Hate flying into the U.S. 🙁 I sure hope they work something out.

  19. @USBusinessTraveller I personally would love a route from OSL/ARN/CPH to MEX, but I might be the only one in Scandinavia. To most Scandinavians, Mexico is a corrupt drug hole with gang wars going on and thus a great spot to be avoided. I therefore guess the total number of passengers from those cities will be about Juan. 😀

  20. UNOS,

    Not sure what you mean about the TK flight being a joke… Either the plane flies or it doesn’t, regardless of what search results you pull up on Google Flights. Currently, TK flies from IST to MEX (the IATA code for the airport, standard use in airline blogs/forums) three times a week. On the return, they land in CUN to take on the full fuel load to the rest of the trip. If EK really wanted to connect DXB to MEX, they would be able to find a similar solution.

  21. @Icarus
    You misquote me.

    I said “there are few…”
    I did NOT say “there are [a] few…”
    There is quite a difference.

    Actually, I believe the flights I describe vaguely are what you are talking about, the seasonal non-stop Aeromexico flights mixed with those requiring a somewhat unpredictable connection en route.

    @Skooby Yes, that is what I was writing about, how unpleasant folks find the US stopover. Good luck with avoiding that. It really is annoying, at best, most of the time even for a US citizen.

  22. Good news! Emirates is subsidized from their government to drive out competition with unfair practices. Glad to hear.

  23. If it’s all about the altitude issues, Emirates should instead fly mex-snn-dxb, and dxb-mex nonstop. Shannon is closer anyway, and if it’s strictly for refueling due to altitude issues, that’s the way to only inconvenience passengers with a technical stop in one direction.

    Of course, this is about Emirates offering a superior product between Mexico City and Barcelona. The two airports are father apart, BCN has much more expensive slot and landing fees, but the countries share a language and a history. This is about Mexico-Spain far more than it is about Mexico-UAE travelers.

  24. Mexico is a very background country. Why Mexico isn’t flying to Dubai, because they don’t have enough bowls to buy a jumbo jet airplanes, well afterwards I think Mexico isn’t alone on this bullshit, there is British airways, KLM behind this game, what a normal judge has to make a decision on air traffic, this is nonsense, for Mexican government and people exists only two countries, which is USA and Canada, what do they know about middle east.

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