Three US airlines are calling on new President Donald Trump to take action and put a stop to Emirates’ decision on Monday, to offer a daily year-round flight to New York’s Newark Liberty International Airport daily via Athens as of March 12.
A trade group representing the three largest US airlines — Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, and United Airlines — said in a statement that the Dubai-based carrier was “flagrantly violating its Open Skies agreement with the United States” and went as far as to call on Trump to intervene with many insiders saying he just might renegotiate the Open Skies deals between the US and Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
“By flagrantly violating its Open Skies agreement with the United States at the start of the Trump administration, Emirates is throwing down the gauntlet”, Jill Zuckman, spokeswoman for the Partnership for Open & Fair Skies, the trade group representing United, Delta and American, said in a statement.
“We look forward to working with President Trump and his team to enforce these agreements and protect American jobs.”
Should this happen, Emirates and its main Gulf competitors, Etihad and Qatar, will be required to axe flights to the US, or be prohibited from picking up passengers in Europe. Despite running a small number of such flights, US airlines are concerned that Gulf carriers will introduce additional direct flights, cashing in on their trans-Atlantic profit margins.
Speaking to Reuters on the matter, Will Horton, senior analyst at CAPA Centre for Aviation, said that the US carriers “would have a hard time arguing the flight was damaging to their interests, given that US carriers do not fly to Greece all year round.”
Meanwhile, Greek Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura expressed her satisfaction with the announcement. “This strategic decision substantially supports our efforts at the Tourism Ministry to enhance the already increasing flow of visitors to Greece from the United States and the UAE on a yearly basis, traveling either for leisure or business purposes.”
According to Tim Clark, president of Emirates Airline, the Greek government and Athens International Airport had approached the airline “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”, Clark said in an announcement, adding that Emirates is pleased “to be able to help meet a strong consumer need long neglected by other airlines”.