Emirates gets approval to launch flights to Mexico City, creating new fifth freedom route

Nov 9, 2019

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

One of the issues at the heart of the Open Skies debate between US and Middle Eastern airlines like Emirates, Etihad and Qatar is fifth freedom routes, routes that an airline operates between two countries other than the one it’s registered in.

Now, after a prolonged stalemate, Arabian Business reports that Emirates has been granted approval by Mexico’s Ministry of Communications and Transport to operate flights from Dubai to Mexico City with a stop in Barcelona (BCN) in each direction starting December 9.

Emirates has been wanting to add service to Mexico City (MEX) for a while now, though the higher elevation of Mexico City makes it nearly impossible to operate this flight nonstop. Emirates finally secured pick-up rights on the last leg, meaning it could carry passengers just between Barcelona and Mexico City, creating the new fifth freedom route. The flight will launch on December 9, and will be operated daily with a Boeing 777-200LR aircraft according to the following schedules:

  • EK255 Dubai to Barcelona departing 3:30 a.m. arriving 8 a.m.
  • EK255 Barcelona to Mexico City departing 9:55 a.m. arriving 4:15 p.m.
  • EK256 Mexico City to Barcelona departing 7:40 p.m. arriving 1:25 p.m. (+1 day)
  • EK256 Barcelona to Dubai departing 3:10 p.m. arriving 12:45 a.m. (+1 day)

Further Reading: 10 Best North American Fifth Freedom Carriers to Book with Points

As part of a settlement to the Open Skies dispute in 2018, the gulf airlines had to agree that they didn’t have any plans to launch new fifth freedom routes to the US. Crucially, this agreement didn’t actually prevent them from launching fifth freedom routes in the future (they only had to state that at the time of the signing they didn’t have plans to do so) and it only applied to the US, not the rest of the North America. Unsurprisingly, Aeromexico objected to this new competition, and given Delta’s large equity investment in Aeromexico, this proposed route reopened parts of the Open Skies debate.

Emirates already operates two North American fifth freedom routes, flying daily from New York (JFK) to Milan (MXP) and from Newark (EWR) to Athens (ATH), before both flights continue on to Dubai (DXB).

Emirates has a few different configurations for its 777-200LR aircraft, but according to ExpertFlyer the one operating this route won’t feature a first class cabin. Instead, there will be seven rows of business class laid out in a 2-2-2 configuration. While this is better than the 2-3-2 configuration found on many of Emirates’ planes, business class seats without direct aisle access are hardly competitive, especially from an airline that built much of its reputation on the luxury of its premium cabins.

Emirates
Emirates’ new 2-2-2 business class on the 777-200LR. Photo by Zach Honig / The Points Guy

If you’re looking to redeem points and miles to fly on this route, you have two primary options: Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan and JAL Mileage Bank. The former charges a larger amount of miles while the latter tacks on aggressive fuel surcharges. The table below shows how much a one-way business class award would cost from Mexico City to Barcelona, or all the way to Dubai. Note that since fuel surcharges are dependent on the origin city, flying in the opposite direction would cost the same number of miles but a different amount in taxes.

Mexico City to Barcelona Mexico City to Dubai
Alaska Airlines 105,000 miles 82,500 miles
JAL 60,000 miles (~$750) 85,000 miles (~$900)

 

Sign up for the free daily TPG newsletter for more travel tips!

Featured image by Ryan Patterson / The Points Guy

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases within the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn a $200 statement credit after your first Delta purchase within the first three months. Offer ends 7/28/21.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles after spending $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months and a $200 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months. Offer expires 7/28/2021.
  • Limited Time Offer: Plus, get a 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months from the date of account opening, then a variable 15.74%-24.74%. Offer expires 7/28/2021.
  • Accelerate your path to Medallion Status, with Status Boost®. Plus, in 2021 you can earn even more bonus Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) to help you reach Medallion Status.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
0% on purchases for 12 months
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.