Dubai: Emirates has hinted at launching direct flights to Atlanta in the United States once US carrier Delta Air Lines stops flying to Dubai from 2016.
The airline said on Friday its route planners are “closely studying the opportunity … to fill in the gap when Delta exits”.
Delta announced this week it is cancelling flights between Atlanta and Dubai from February 11, 2016. The US’ second biggest airline blamed Gulf airlines for the exit, accusing them of dumping capacity on flights to the United States.
In an emailed statement, Emirates rejected Delta’s accusation that the Gulf carrier “forced” it to stop flying between the two cities, and claimed the flight was highly profitable for the American carrier.
“Delta effectively has a monopoly on the Atlanta-Dubai route,” Emirates said.
Delta is currently the only airline flying directly between the Gulf and Atlanta. Qatar Airways will launch direct flights from its hub in Doha in June 2016.
Emirates estimates Delta makes over $10 million in profit a year flying from Atlanta to Dubai and citing US Department of Transport data said the carrier consistently filled over 85 per cent of seats on the route.
Emirates labeled Delta’s decision to pull out of the route a “political move to position Delta as a ‘victim’ of the Gulf carriers,” which Emirates said is “laughable considering Delta’s size and profitability.”
Delta announced earlier this year it was cutting back on frequencies to Dubai before announcing this week it will stop flying to the Middle East hub entirely.
On August 11, Emirates said Delta’s decision to reduce capacity was a “political play”.
Delta is one of three US carriers that have lobbied the US government this year to stop the three major Gulf carriers, Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways from adding more destinations in the US.
Delta, along with American and United, claim the Gulf carriers are unfairly propped up billions of dollars of state subsidies that allow them to steal US passenger traffic. The US carriers want their government to investigate the claims. The Gulf carriers have consistently denied the accusations.