Emirates renews long-standing bid for Berlin flights

Airline boss Tim Clark meets German capital's mayor to discuss city's potential for more international long-haul connections

Emirates airline's president Tim Clark with Berlin mayor Franziska Giffey in Dubai. Photo: Emirates
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Emirates, the world’s biggest long-haul airline, has renewed its long-standing interest in serving Berlin which would require an expanded air service agreement between the UAE and Germany.

The airline's president Tim Clark and mayor of Berlin Franziska Giffey met on Wednesday at the company's headquarters in Dubai to discuss “Berlin’s potential for more international long-haul connectivity”, Emirates said in a statement on Thursday.

Starting Berlin flights would require Germany to approve more flights from Emirates.

The Dubai-based long-haul giant is seeking to expand beyond the four German cities of Frankfurt, Munich, Hamburg and Dusseldorf that it is currently able to serve.

Under an existing bilateral agreement signed in 1994, adding Berlin would mean dropping operations to one of these four destinations.

For more than 20 years, Emirates has publicly expressed interest in adding daily Berlin flights to its network and expanding operations in Germany.

“We do welcome that Mrs Giffey is advocating for more long-haul flight rights for Berlin and we appreciate the ongoing dialogue,” Mr Clark said.

Berlin Brandenburg Airport, which opened in October 2020 after several delays and hurdles, has some direct flights with the Middle East. Qatar Airways, Turkish Airlines and Egypt Air are among the major regional carriers, the airport's website says.

“Emirates strongly believes that Berlin Brandenburg has great potential to become a successful destination for long-haul flights,” Mr Clark added.

“Hopefully we will be able to operate Berlin Brandenburg Airport in the future. We would commence flights to Berlin as soon as possible, if that would be permitted in addition to our existing four German destinations.”

Watch: Emirates airline's A380 plane gets a makeover

Watch: Emirates airline's A380 plane gets a makeover

By adding the German capital city to its global routes network, Emirates will be able to provide direct access for tourists and business travellers from around the world to and from Berlin, while also offering more cargo capacity for the transport of goods, the airline said.

“We appreciate Emirates’ continued interest in connecting the German capital city with the world,” Ms Giffey, who is also senator for economic affairs, energy and public enterprises, said.

“The Berlin Brandenburg Airport serves the metropolitan region and much of eastern Germany, one of the most dynamic regions in Europe.

“Our goal is to expand the existing long-haul network and I am glad to see Emirates as a partner in this endeavour.”

Starting on October 30, Lufthansa Group's low-cost airline Eurowings will be flying from Berlin to Dubai non-stop four times a week, the Berlin Brandenburg Airport's website says.

Gitex 2025 in Berlin

Emirates started operations to Germany in July 1987 with two weekly flights to Frankfurt.

Since then, it began to serve three additional points – Munich in November 1999, Dusseldorf in March 2001 and Hamburg in March 2006. It currently has 63 weekly services to Germany.

“It has now been 17 years since Emirates added a new destination in Germany. We see Berlin Brandenburg as a natural evolution and an ideal next step in this long-lasting, mutually beneficial relationship,” an Emirates spokeswoman said The National.

Seat load factors – a measure of how well an airline fills available seats – in and out of the German cities that Emirates serves “have always been healthy”, she said.

“Germany is one of the most significant markets on Emirates' network and as a commercially focused and market-oriented airline, we strongly believe in Berlin Brandenburg’s impressive credentials as a profitable, intercontinental market,” she said.

“We know the tourism flows are there and clearly, there is a corporate segment characterised by rapid growth.”

For example, a daily Emirates Boeing 777 flight would also offer Brandenburg-based companies more than 280 tonnes of cargo space per week in both directions for time-sensitive imports and exports, according to the airline spokeswoman.

Meanwhile, Gitex, the global annual tech exhibition will be expanding to Europe where it will be hosted by the German capital in 2025, it said in a statement on October 18. The event will debut from May 21 to 23, 2025.

Berlin has attracted a global influx of tech talent, entrepreneurs and investors and is now home to 5,600 tech start-ups and scale-ups, according to the Gitex statement. Every second euro of all German funding goes to a Berlin start-up.

“Now that Berlin will be hosting the Europe version of Gitex from 2025, there is an even bigger need for more air connectivity,” the Emirates spokeswoman said.

Updated: October 19, 2023, 3:02 PM