Emi­rates be­gins di­rect flights be­tween Athens and New York

Kathimerini English - - Focus - BY ALEXAN­DRA KASSIMI

Af­ter a five-year ab­sence, the year­round daily air link be­tween Athens and the New York area is sched­uled to re­sume as Dubaibased air­line Emi­rates yes­ter­day an­nounced it will be start­ing flights on the route from March 12.

Athens In­ter­na­tional Air­port of­fi­cials had been try­ing to get the air­line to com­mit to the ser­vice since 2013. How­ever, it wasn’t un­til re­cently, when Emi­rates had had a chance to see that the route made good busi­ness sense, that the air­line pro­ceeded with the sched­ul­ing of this flight, mak­ing Athens the in­ter­me­di­ary stop in the ser­vice link­ing Dubai with Ne­wark Air­port, just 15 miles (24 km) south­west of Mid­town Man­hat­tan.

An es­ti­mated 600,000-700,000 pas­sen­gers travel from Athens to North Amer­ica ev­ery year and traf­fic on di­rect flights of­fered on a sea­sonal ba­sis (i.e. ev­ery sum­mer or from spring to fall) grew 52 per­cent last year to reach some 156,000 pas­sen­gers.

AIA of­fi­cials had also ap­proached Qatar Air­ways for the year-round op­er­a­tion of the route, but the air­line’s prob­lems with its first Boe­ing 787 Dream­liner air­planes pre­vented the start of the ser­vice.

Emi­rates has been op­er­at­ing di­rect flights from Milan to New York’s JFK Air­port since Oc­to­ber 2013, which pro­vided it with a clear pic­ture as re­gards traf­fic be­tween Europe and the US.

Due to fears of low re­turns from the route, air­lines stopped all di­rect flights be­tween Athens and the US in 2012, a year when traf­fic to Athens took a dip. Nowa­days there are sum­mer ser­vices be­tween Athens and New York by Delta Air Lines (JFK) and United Air­lines (Ne­wark), while Amer­i­can Air­lines links Athens with Philadel­phia.

The Emi­rates flights will be made on Boe­ing 777-300ER air­craft, of­fer­ing eight first-class seats, 42 in busi­ness class and 304 in econ­omy, as well as a cargo ca­pac­ity of 19 tons.

Emi­rates has been op­er­at­ing di­rect flights from Milan to New York’s JFK Air­port since Oc­to­ber 2013, which pro­vided it with a clear pic­ture as re­gards traf­fic be­tween Europe and the US.

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