ROUTES AMERICAS: Emirates to Launch Flights to the Windy City

As Routes Americas was taking place in San Salvador, the capital of the Central American country, El Salvador, senior delegates from this year’s World Routes host, Chicago were celebrating the announcement by Emirates Airline that it had selected Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport as its latest US gateway. The carrier will launch a daily link to the Windy City from its Dubai International Airport hub from August 5, 2014 just six weeks before World Routes takes place in Chicago.

The city will become the airline’s ninth gateway in the USA, following five months after the commencement of its services to Boston, Massachusetts on March 10, 2014 and has long been a destination in the United States which Emirates has wished to serve, according to Tim Clark, president of the carrier.

“Like Dubai, Chicago is a major global trade and transportation hub with great cultural diversity that is an economic engine for its region. We welcome the chance to establish a non-stop trade bridge between these two great cities and, via our Dubai hub, to more efficiently link Chicago area passengers and shippers with our international network beyond Dubai to 125 destinations spanning six continents. This is good news for trade and tourism for both cities, and jobs that rely on both, as well as for consumers who will benefit from greater competitive choice,” he explained.

Chicago, Illinois is the third largest city by population and GDP in the United States, with a population of 2.7 million. Incorporated as a city in 1837 it is famed for its rich cultural heritage, world-class arts establishments, accomplished sports teams and iconic tourist attractions which attract about 46 million people each year.

Chicago is also a significant convention hub, and home to many of the US’s largest companies including Boeing, which is a very important supplier partner of Emirates. Emirates is the largest operator of Boeing 777 aircraft in the world, with a fleet of 122 passenger and 10 freighter Boeing 777s currently in its fleet, and is a launch customer of Boeing’s new 777X having placed the largest single order in commercial aviation history for 150 of them valued at $76 billion in November 2013.

“Chicago welcomes Emirates, one of the world’s largest international airlines, to our city,” said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “Air transport links are critical for trade and tourism, and Emirates’ non-stop daily flights to Dubai will only add to our global connectivity and further our goal to host 55 million visitors by 2020, in turn generating jobs not only at the airport but across Chicago’s travel and hospitality industries.”

The wider Chicago area, sometimes known as Chicagoland which includes nearly 10 million people across the states of Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana – is the 22nd largest metropolitan area in the world. It is home to 160 company headquarters, 30 Fortune 500 company headquarters, 12 Fortune Global 500 and 10 Financial Times Global 500 companies. It has an international, culturally-diverse workforce that encompasses over 132 language groups.

The flight will be operated using a Boeing 777-200LR that is configured with eight private First Class suites, 42 Business Class suites and 216 Economy Class seats. In addition to carrying passengers, the aircraft will also carry up to 17 tonnes of cargo to further increase the trade opportunities between Dubai and Chicago. Emirates already operates a twice weekly dedicated freighter service to Chicago which in 2013 carried nearly 7,400 tonnes of cargo from the city and over 4,200 into the city.

The US and the UAE enjoy strong commercial and political ties. In 2012, US exports to the UAE reached a record high of US$22.5 billion, an increase of 42% over 2011 and higher than any other country in the Middle East. A significant portion of those exports to the UAE came in the form of Boeing aircraft for Emirates. In 2012 Illinois exported $364 million of goods and services to the UAE, including vehicles and construction equipment supporting a workforce of nearly 3,500 in the state.

What does the arrival of Emirates Airline mean to Chicago? The HUB spoke to Matthew Danaher, director of airline and industry relations, Chicago Department of Aviation, at Routes Americas earlier today following the formal launch of the new route.

Matthew Danaher, Director of Airline Industry Relations