Emirates is to restart its controversial ‘fifth freedom’ flight between Barcelona and Mexico City with a four-weekly service beginning July 2, the Dubai-based airline announced on Thursday. The route has been suspended since early last year after Emirates was forced to ground all but its entire fleet because of the pandemic.
The decision to resume the link between Barcelona and Mexico City is likely to stir up animosity with Mexican flag carrier Aeromexico who previously launched legal action in a bid to stop Emirates from opening the route in the first place.
Emirates flight EK255 starts off in Dubai, departing at 3:25 am and arriving in Barcelona at around 8:35 am. After just over two hours on the ground to clean and re-cater the Boeing 777-200 aircraft, the flight will continue on to Mexico City arriving just over 12-hours later.
Years in the planning, the controversial route had only been operating for less than four months when the COVID-19 pandemic brought global air travel to a standstill.
Rivals claim Emirates was attempting to muscle in on the Spanish market but Emirates’ president Sir Tim Clark explained that Mexico City’s high altitude meant it just wasn’t feasible to operate a direct flight to Dubai as they would like to.
Instead, Clark said, it made sense to operate flights via Barcelona which had been traditionally overlooked by the likes of Aeromexico and Iberia.
Aeromexico briefly won an injunction to stop Emirates opening the route but this was quickly overturned and Emirates operated its inaugural service in December 2019.
Emirates has already announced plans to resume other controversial fifth freedom flights between Athens and Newark and Milan and New York JFK.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.