Emirates blocked from third daily Nairobi flight

Emirates Airline’s plans to operate a third daily rotation between its Dubai base and the Kenyan capital Nairobi have been suspended after the Kenyan authorities declined to approve the additional service.

The airline described the move as “surprising.”

Emirates had been planning to use a Boeing 777-300ER on the route in a three-class, 354-seat layout. When announcing plans for the new service Jan. 19, the Dubai-based carrier said it “underscores Emirates’ commitment to Kenya and confidence in the route, which has grown to become one of the airline’s busiest routes in Africa since it first launched services to the country in October 1995.”

However, the latest service was blocked. According to Kenyan media reports, the East African country is seeking a review of the bilateral air service agreement between the two countries to better balance the share of services operated by Emirates and the national carrier, Kenya Airways.

Kenya Airways has been struggling financially in recent years; more widely, several African nations are expressing concern at the amount of Africa-originating traffic being siphoned off by the Gulf “Big Three” carriers to their respective hubs.

The tightening airline market has also seen profits at carriers such as Emirates shrink in recent months.

“Emirates can confirm that approval granted to operate a third daily flight between Dubai and Nairobi has been withdrawn by the Kenyan transport authorities,” the airline said in a statement.

“The withdrawal of the already-granted approval by the Kenyan transport authorities is surprising, given that the valid air services agreement between the two countries allows Emirates to operate flights to Nairobi without any restriction. We will engage with the Kenyan authorities to address any concerns so that our third daily flight can be launched as planned. This does not affect Emirates’ two other daily flights between Dubai and Nairobi, which are operating as scheduled,” Emirates said.

Originally Published on Air Transport World.

americans4fairskies2015Emirates blocked from third daily Nairobi flight
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Note to Trump: If You Back U.S. Labor, Then Block Emirates’ Athens-Newark Flight

As they battle rapid U.S. expansion by the subsidized Middle East airlines, the three U.S. global airlines have made it clear they have just one principal goal: They want Emirates, Etihad and Qatar to be kept from operating fifth freedom flights.

Fifth freedom flights allow airlines to fly between two foreign countries.

Emirates on Monday said it would begin Athens-Newark flights on March 12. Emirates already operates Milan to New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, the only other fifth freedom flight operated by a Middle East carrier.

United Airlines (UAL) already flies Newark-Athens as a seasonal flight with a Boeing 767-300ER scheduled to operate between May 24 and early October.

“By flagrantly violating its Open Skies agreement with the United States at the start of the Trump administration, Emirates is throwing down the gauntlet,” said Jill Zuckman, chief spokeswoman for the Partnership for Open & Fair Skies.

“We look forward to working with President Trump and his team to enforce these agreements and protect American jobs — something that the Obama administration failed to do,” Zuckman said.

Government subsidies to Emirates, Etihad and Qatar have exceeded $50 billion, the partnership said. U.S. carriers, operated for profit, said the subsidies make it tough to compete.

Donald Trump, U.S. president, met with labor leaders from the building trades on Monday night but not with any from the transportation trades. Backing U.S. workers and staunching the flow of U.S. jobs to offshore companies were key themes for the Trump campaign.

Twelve days ago, during the Delta (DAL) earnings call, CEO Ed Bastian was asked what changes he expects to see during the Trump administration.

“We are very excited about the opportunities to present our case relative to the Middle Eastern situation with all the growth that those carriers have brought to this country on a subsidized basis where we are competing against governments, not the other airlines and {about} the opportunity to let the Trump administration know how we can do, as an industry, a better job of protecting U.S. jobs and U.S. opportunities going forward,” Bastian said.

Delta also wants Trump to know how the airline industry can do better at “protecting trade deals and enforcing trade deals that are being violated in the present time,” Bastian said.

In July, after a year and a half of lobbying by the partnership, the State Department met for informal talks with UAE officials and separately with Qatar officials on July 25.

Those talks went nowhere.

The Middle East carriers serve the U.S. under Open Skies agreements.

Subsidies violate Open Skies policy. Additionally, Open Skies agreements were generally intended to assure that U.S. carriers could fly to foreign countries and the foreign countries’ airlines could serve the U.S. so that commercial air traffic could flow freely between two countries.

The agreements didn’t envision a subsidized airline flying a dozen daily U.S. flights, with the vast majority of passengers flying to a foreign airline’s hub simply to connect to a third country.

No U.S. carriers fly to Dubai or Abu Dhabi. Early in 2016, United dropped a Washington Dulles-Dubai flight and Delta dropped its Atlanta-Dubai flight. Rapid expansion by the subsidized Middle East carriers had diminished the likelihood that U.S. passengers would connect to Dubai flights.

“Enormous subsidies put U.S. airlines at a tremendous economic disadvantage and threaten U.S. airline workers’ jobs — and fly in the face of the Trump administration’s ‘America First’ governing philosophy,” the Air Line Pilots Association said Monday in a prepared statement. ALPA represents about 54,000 pilots at 31 airlines.

“We urge the Trump administration to do what the Obama administration failed to do and stand up for U.S. workers and demand that the United Arab Emirates government end these subsidies,” ALPA said.

Originally Published on The Street.

americans4fairskies2015Note to Trump: If You Back U.S. Labor, Then Block Emirates’ Athens-Newark Flight
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Emirates to Start Dubai-Athens-Newark Flights, Likely to Irk U.S. Carriers

DUBAI — Emirates plans to start flying to the United States with a stop for passengers in Greece, its second so-called fifth freedom flight and a move that could anger U.S. competitors who accuse it of competing unfairly through state subsidies.

The world’s largest long-haul airline said Monday it would start daily flights to New Jersey’s Newark Liberty International Airport via Athens on March 12.

Dubai-based Emirates already operates four daily flights to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, including one with a stop off in Milan.

Fifth freedom rights allow an airline to fly between foreign countries as a part of services to and from its home country.

Delta and other U.S. airlines have accused major Gulf carriers — Emirates, Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways – of receiving tens of billions of dollars in unfair subsidies, and urged the former Obama Administration to halt the Open Skies agreement. The Gulf carriers deny the allegations.

The Obama Administration ultimately declined to take action against the Gulf carriers who are owned by governments of Middle East allies Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

U.S. airline lobby group Open & Fair Skies has said it is optimistic the new administration of President Donald Trump would “enforce our trade agreements and fight for American jobs”.

“We look forward to briefing President-elect Donald Trump and his new administration on the massive, unfair subsidies that the UAE and Qatar give to their state-owned Gulf carriers,” said Jill Zuckman, chief spokesperson for the Partnership for Open and Fair Skies, on Nov. 9.

The lobby group is likely to put pressure on authorities to stop the Dubai-Athens-Newark route before it starts, said Will Horton, senior analyst at CAPA – Centre for Aviation.

However, the U.S. carriers will have a hard time arguing that the Emirates flight is damaging given that U.S. carriers do not fly to Greece year-round, Horton said in emailed comments.

Emirates President Tim Clark said the Greek government approached the airline “some time ago” to start a flight between Athens and New York, according to an airline statement.

(This version of the story corrects to show only one New York flight stops at Milan, paragraph three)

Originally Published on The New York Times.

americans4fairskies2015Emirates to Start Dubai-Athens-Newark Flights, Likely to Irk U.S. Carriers
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