New York.- GreekNewsOnine
Ten years after Olympic Airlines was sold to Andreas Vgenopoulos’ MIG and the new ownership quit all transatlantic routes including the Athens – JFK daily non-stop flight, air travellers wanting to take a cultural break when flying to or from the United States will soon be able to enjoy a stop-off at the ancient Greek capital of Athens.
Emirates will launch a new daily service from Dubai to Newark Liberty International Airport via the Greek capital city starting on March 12.
The new route adds to Emirates’ existing four daily flights between Dubai and New York’s JFK airport, by offering global travellers with another convenient access point to the popular New York metropolitan area.
Emirates’ new Dubai-Athens-Newark flight will also provide a year-round non-stop daily service between the United States and Greece – a service that does not exist today and has not existed since 2008. The airline will operate a wide-body Boeing 777-300ER on the route, offering eight seats in first, 42 in business and 304 in economy class, as well as 19 tonnes of belly-hold cargo capacity. The huge cargo availability will make it easier and cheaper for Greek exporters of sensitive products (fish, dairies etc) to access the U.S. market.
“We are pleased to be able to help meet a strong consumer need long neglected by other airlines, and we would like to thank the authorities and our partners in both the US and Greece for their support of the new route,” said Sir Tim Clark, the president of Emirates Airline.
“We also expect tourism to receive a major boost from the availability of daily flights year-round.”
Elena Kountoura, the minister of tourism of the Hellenic Republic said: “This strategic choice substantially supports our efforts at the ministry of tourism to enhance the already increasing flow of visitors to Greece from the United States and the UAE on a yearly basis, travelling either for leisure or business purposes.”
In addition, the expected increase in tourism numbers will provide a boost for Greece’s battered economy, still wrangling with the IMF over the next tranche of its bailout.
“Greece’s economic comeback is going to have to include year round tourism and easier business travel. The new Emirates route makes this possible,” said Endy Zemenides, the executive director of the Hellenic American Leadership Council.
Emirates establishment of a direct flight is expected to push the fares down, especially during the months October – March. A year round direct flight is expected to make Greece more attractive to cruises and if the route will be proven successful, it’s possible Piraeus to be used as a starting point for cruises. In addition, the Boeing 777 offers a real first class, making it attractive to the world class travelers.
The US is home to the largest overseas Greek community in the world, numbering approximately 1.3 million, and the New York City metropolitan area has the largest community of Greek Americans in the country, according to Emirates.
ISTANBUL IS DANGEROUS
Since the numbers of US travelers to Greece increased the last couple of years, high air fares forced many Greek Americans to use for travelling to their homeland Turkish Airlines, despite the fact that Turkey tops the list of State Departments warnings, following a series of terrorist attacks with many dead and injured. On January 25, 2017, the U.S. Department of State issued a new warning stating:
“Carefully consider the need to travel to Turkey at this time, and avoid travel to southeast Turkey due to the persistent threat of terrorism. The Department of State has placed restrictions on official travel by U.S. government personnel to Istanbul and to certain areas in southeast Turkey.”
On January 5, 2017, State Department spokesman warned that lives of American citizens are in danger in Turkey, because of the anti-American rhetoric in the Turkish media.
“Incendiary and false accusations about the U.S. in Turkish media are offensive and could endanger our citizens. Must stop”, Spokesman John Kirby twitted.
Emirates operates one of the youngest and most modern fleets in the sky, with an average fleet age of just 61 months, compared to the industry average of 140 months.
Emirates flight EK209 will depart Dubai at 10:50 local time, arriving in Athens at 14:25 before departing again at 16:40 and arriving into Newark at 22:00 on the same day. The return flight EK210 will depart Newark at 23:45 local time, arriving in Athens the next day at 15:05. EK210 will depart once again from Athens at 17:10 bound for Dubai where it will arrive at 23:50.
Emirates’ announcement was met with a swift and furious response from the airline’s US critics — American, Delta, and United Airlines — through the Partnership for Open and Fair Skies, an organization tasked with speaking on behalf of three carriers or US3 on the matter. Even though this is just a single route, the additional supply of seat capacity is a threat to the US3’s preciously trans-Atlantic business.
Delta operates a summer-only timetable from the Greek capital to New York’s John F. Kennedy International airport. Delta sought to block Emirates’s flight through Milan to New York as part of its campaign against the growth of Gulf airlines it says have had unfair state support. United and American will also offer summer services this year connecting Athens with Newark and Philadelphia respectively, according to the Skyscanner website.
“By flagrantly violating its Open Skies agreement with the United States at the start of the Trump administration, Emirates is throwing down the gauntlet,” Partnership for Open and Fair Skies chief spokesperson, Jill Zuckman, said in a statement. “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.”
The US3 allege that the explosive growth experienced by Emirates and its fellow Middle Eastern carriers— Etihad and Qatar Airways — have been fueled by more than $50 billion in unfair government subsidies over the past decade. The US carriers also assume that continued expansion of the three Middle Eastern carriers or ME3 into the US will lead to the loss domestic aviation jobs. As as result, the US3 contend that the ME3 are in violation of the Open Skies bilateral agreements that govern air travel between the US and foreign nations.
Delta CEO Ed Bastian, along with his predecessor Richard Anderson, has said on many occasions that his company can compete against any airline in the world, but not governments.