In Numbers: Emirates Is North America’s 4th Largest Foreign Airline



Emirates serves 12 destinations across the US and Canada this year, down by one following the end of Fort Lauderdale. The airline is now North America’s fourth-largest foreign long-haul airline.

Emirates serves 12 North America destinations this year, down by one from the loss of Fort Lauderdale. Photo: Getty Images.

Emirates is North America’s fourth-largest foreign long-haul airline this year, based on total available seats. It is behind British Airways, Lufthansa, and Korean Air, analyzing OAG data reveals, but ahead of KLM, Qatar Airways, and Turkish Airlines.

Not that there’s much in it, with fewer than 150,000 seats separating Emirates and the three trailing it. Simple Flying examined Qatar Airways’ North America network and found that it has 13 non-stop routes. Despite coronavirus, the region is one of the few growth areas for the carrier – which cannot be said for Emirates.

The decline and then flatness between 2016-2019 was from broader issues within Emirates. In this period, its total capacity grew by just 0.74%, partly from the A380 engine dispute and delayed deliveries. It was also from the spat between the so-called Middle East Big Three and the US Big Three. Source: OAG Schedules Analyzer.

Stay informed: Sign up for our daily and weekly aviation news digests.

New York JFK tops the charts

Emirates has 12 destinations in North America this year, the same number it had back in 2016. This has reduced from a high of 13 as a result of Dubai to Fort Lauderdale ending. This route began in 2016 and operated until 2020.

Fort Lauderdale was the Emirates’ least-served destination in this region in 2019. In contrast, New York JFK was the airline’s number-one, followed by Newark, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Washington Dulles. This year, JFK is naturally still top, but the order is now as follows.


  1. New York JFK
  2. Los Angeles
  3. Toronto
  4. Chicago
  5. Washington Dulles
  6. San Francisco
  7. Boston
  8. Newark
  9. Seattle
  10. Houston
  11. Dallas
  12. Orlando
Emirates serves 12 airports in the US and Canada. All are non-stop except Newark, which routes Dubai-Athens-Newark. JFK, meanwhile, is served both non-stop and via Milan Malpensa. Image: GCMap.

Toronto is down by only 6%

While the 12 destinations, mentioned above, are down by an average of 44%, three stand out. Toronto has reduced by only 6%, Chicago 15%, and Los Angeles 17%. It is for this reason – and the bigger reductions elsewhere – that they have jumped so much up the table.

Toronto is for now third, up from eighth, at least for now. It is five-weekly, as it was in 2019. But while it was then served only by the A380, this year it is about both the B777-300ER (until April) and the superjumbo (from March). This accounts for it being down so marginally.


Los Angeles is Emirates’ second-largest North America destination this year. It will be served once-daily by the A380 in mid-August, replacing the B777-300ER. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

Emirates’ Dubai hub

As with all major hub-and-spoke airlines, even if they only operate narrowbodies like Panama’s Copa, Emirates’ Dubai hub is coordinated to drive connectivity. The airline’s North America services are no exception.

In a randomly chosen week in mid-August, Emirates has 70 departures to the US and Canada, with 14 departure times, as follows. All but three flights leave between 0815 and 0955.

Departure time from Dubai To Weekly flights Aircraft
02:20 Washington Dulles 4 A380
02:50 New York JFK 3 B777-300ER
08:15 Boston 4 B777-300ER
08:30 JFK 7 A380
08:55 Los Angeles 7 A380
08:55 Orlando 4 B777-200LR
09:10 Toronto 5 A380
09:10 San Francisco 4 A380
09:35 Dallas 4 B777-200LR
09:35 Houston 4 B777-200LR
09:45 JFK via Milan 7 B777-300ER
09:55 Seattle 4 B777-300ER
09:55 Chicago 6 B777-300ER
10:50 Newark via Athens 7 B777-300ER

The reason for this is obvious: to be fed by a hugely important arrivals bank, including Emirates’ largest number of arrivals from South Asia. US/Canada flights arrive back the next day between 18:30 and 19:15, this time feeding the largest number of departures to South Asia.

It’s hardly a surprise that in 2019 Emirates carried five times more passengers over Dubai to South Asia than to its second-largest region, the Middle East.

Will you be flying Emirates this year? Comment below!