Emirates Cuts Capacity And Delays Restarts On Routes To The United States

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As I seem to keep saying, if you think that we’re anywhere the end of this current crisis you just have to look at the various plans the airlines are making to see that we’re not even close. We’re seeing a lot of airlines eliminating routes and cutting capacity on routes seemingly every time a new set of schedule changes is released, and the latest airline to post less than optimistic schedules is Emirates.

Emirates may be trumpeting the fact that it has restarted A380 operations on a number of routes and it has been keen to keep people focused on the routes that it’s starting/restarting (Casablanca, Luanda, etc…), but all of that is only a distraction from the fact that it will still only be operating to 15 destinations around the world as of 1 October 2020.

The airline has recently updated its schedules for the upcoming winter and for summer next year, and the updates can be used to give us an insight into how the airline is viewing its short-term future. In particular, the schedules clearly show the airline preparing for a tough start to the winter season with cuts to routes across the board (compared to winter last year) and with a number of routes being eliminated…seemingly for good.

Emirates’ Plans For Its US Routes

Emirates has been flying to/from the US for the past few months and, back in August, the airline restarted services to Boston and Houston taking the total number of US cities that it serves to six. At the time, there was a good deal of optimism in the air with the airline even suggesting that it would be looking to operate yet more flights between Dubai and the US by the end of October.

That was then. Things look a bit different now. Not only has the airline been forced to push back the restart of some routes, but the suggested capacity increases won’t be in place by October either.

Here’s what the route news looks like:

Dubai – Athens – Newark

Back in August, this was a route that Emirates was suggesting would be operating by 1 September but 1 September came and went and there was no sign of the route restarting. Now the latest schedules show the restart date pushed back to 2 December 2020 and the planned 7 weekly flights reduced to just 4.

Dubai – Boston

Emirates brought back its Dubai – Boston route on 15 August and the airline has been operating a 4x/week service ever since. This route was supposed to offer a daily service from the end of October but, for now, the 4x/week service remains through 2 December at which point a 6x/week service is planned.

Dubai – Chicago O’Hare

Chicago was one of the first US cities that saw a resumption of service from Emirates and, as things stand, there are 5 weekly flights operating to/from Dubai. Winter 2020/21 was supposed to see this route offering a daily service from late October but the latest schedules show the 5 weekly flights remaining in place through the end of the schedule.

Dubai – Dallas/Ft. Worth

Emirates originally planned to restart service between Dubai and Dallas/Ft. Worth from 1 October but those plans were shelved a few weeks ago and the route is now not scheduled to restart until 26 October (the start of winter season). Historically, Emirates operates a daily service to DFW during the northern hemisphere winter but, as things stand, only 4 weekly flights are currently planned.

Dubai – Fort Lauderdale

The Dubai – Fort Lauderdale route was proclaimed dead back in early August but it remained in the schedules for some time. Some held out hope that this was some kind of sign that Emirates may have a change of heart but this week’s schedule changes confirmed that this was little more than wishful thinking as the route was permanently removed.

Dubai – Houston
Emirates returned to Houston on 23 August with a 3x/week service that was scheduled to rise to a daily service from the beginning of the coming winter season. The latest schedule change has put an end to any hope of more flights on this route as the service is set to remain at just 3 flights per week.

Dubai – Los Angeles

Back in August, Los Angeles was seeing 4 Emirates flights per week and that increased to 7 flights per week in September. Originally, the daily service was scheduled to continue through the winter season, and the Emirates A380 was set to making a much-anticipated return but, as of this weekend, things changed. The Dubai – LAX route will continue to be operated by a 777-300ER and the number of weekly flights is set to drop to 4 from 27 October.

Dubai – Newark

The Dubai – Newark non-stop route was declared dead back in early August (at the same time as the Fort Lauderdale route was eliminated) but, like the Fort Lauderdale route, it remained in the schedules until this weekend at which point it was finally removed.

Dubai – New York JFK

New York JFK has been seeing a daily service from Dubai since early August but the plans to increase this service to 2x/day (originally planned for 27 October) have now been shelved. The existing daily service will continue through winter 2020/21.

Dubai – Orlando

In the middle of August Emirates announced that its service to Orlando would resume on 2 September. A few days later that start date was pushed back to October and now the route is not scheduled to restart until 1 June 2021.

Dubai – San Francisco

As recently as the beginning of this month Emirates suggested that it would be restarting services to San Francisco from 15 September with a tri-weekly service. Needless to say, this service still hasn’t restarted and the latest indications are that the Dubai – San Francisco route won’t come back online until 27 October.

Assuming that this restart date sticks, the service will be operated 3x/week which is down from the previously planned daily service that we saw in winter 2019/20. Early indications also show that this route will see increased service (5x/week) from 5 December.

Dubai – Seattle

Just as with the San Francisco route, Dubai – Seattle was originally due to come back from 15 September (that never happened) and now, according to the latest schedules, the reboot has now been pushed back to 1 December. The current plan appears to be for Emirates to operate this route 3x/week which is down significantly from the daily service we saw in winter last year.

Dubai – Washington Dulles

Washington D.C. is another US destination that saw an early resumption of service from Emirates with the airline operating 4 weekly flights since early August. Last winter saw this route operated daily and early indications were that Emirates would offer at least 5 weekly flights in winter 2020/21…but that’s not how things look to be panning out. As things stand, the 4 weekly flights will continue through the whole of winter 2020/21.

Related Reading: KLM Cuts Service To 3 US Cities & Reduces Capacity To Others

Bottom Line

Clearly it’s not particularly surprising to see Emirates scheduling fewer flights to/from the US in winter 2020/21 than we saw it offering last winter, but it’s interesting to see Emirates continuing to push back the start of some routes that, up until a couple of weeks ago, looked set to relaunch on schedule. I strongly suspect that this isn’t the last of the US schedule changes that we’ll see the airline push through in the coming weeks, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see more delays to route reboots and more capacity cuts either.


  1. Lufthansa’s statement of 21 September states that they expect only 20-30 percent of capacity for the fourth quarter. It’s not looking good. Please consider that we are talking Lufthansa, Europe, Germany. Germany alone has 82 million people, the EU 500 million people. UAE has a mall population, it is a air transit hub and less a destination, far more a hub that kept Emirates, Etihad, Qatar busy. That’s gone, and if Lufthansa (now retiring 150 of their aircraft vice the previous 100 announced) can’t fill planes out of and into Germany, then go figure how the Gulf 3 are going to keep adding routes and fill these. Ain’t gonna happen this year into winter 2021.

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