Why Emirates Stopped Flying To Florida’s Fort Lauderdale



Emirates began Fort Lauderdale in 2016 but ended the service last year. It achieved an estimated 90% seat load factor in 2019 – helped by below-average fares. Where did passengers go? We examine the route.

Emirates served Fort Lauderdale from 2016 until 2020. It used the B777LR, as here, in a three-class, 266-seat layout. Photo: Cory W. Watts via Wikimedia.

Emirates began Dubai to Fort Lauderdale (FLL) on December 15th, 2016, becoming the airline’s second route to Florida after Orlando. It initially served FLL once-daily using 266-seat B777-200LRs, before later reducing it to four-weekly.

Despite the large amounts of planning most airlines do for new routes, strong performance isn’t guaranteed. Route reductions reflect underperformance, and cutting capacity will hopefully improve yields and seat load factors. Aircraft can then be redeployed to where they might be more effectively used.

Emirates raised eyebrows when it announced FLL. It launched the airport – rather than Miami – because of its US partner, JetBlue. FLL was, and remains, JetBlue’s third-largest airport. The reason was logical: passengers could connect via the South Florida airport to various locations in Latin America and the US.

The Middle East Big Three (MEB3) airline ended Fort Lauderdale in 2020, although it still serves 12 destinations across North America.

In 2019, Emirates served 13 North American airports. Three types were used: the A380; B777-300ER (as here); and the B777-200LR. Now 12 airports are served. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

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90% seat load factor in 2019

In 2019, Emirates’ FLL route had an approximate seat load factor (SLF) of 90%. This is based on 107,536 seats and an estimated 97,000 passengers, as shown below. This is from booking data obtained via OAG Traffic Analyzer.

In airline performance, SLF is an important measurement, but it must really be considered alongside yields and costs. After all, a very high SLF, as here, does not mean it was getting decent yields. It could have achieved a 90% SLF from heavily discounted fares.


Nearly half of Emirates’ passengers transited over Dubai having originated or ended in FLL. Source: OAG Schedules and Traffic Analyzer.

28% of FLL passengers were point-to-point

It is estimated that some 27,000 passengers (28%) were point-to-point (P2P) between FLL and Dubai, a pretty low volume in itself, as would be expected.

Meanwhile, a further ~8,000 passengers connected over Fort Lauderdale to Dubai only, mainly with JetBlue. Quito-FLL-Dubai was the largest origin-and-destination (O&D), booking data reveals, followed by Atlanta, Guayaquil, Mexico City, and San Jose (Costa Rica).

Not surprisingly, the biggest chunk of passengers – at around 46,000 and almost half – were from FLL over Dubai; where they went is examined below.

‘Bridging’ passengers, those who transited over both airports, had a sizeable ~16,000. JetBlue was key here, too. While the number of passengers per O&D was low, Atlanta-FLL-Dubai-Hyderabad was number-one, intriguingly followed by Barbados-FLL-Dubai-Mumbai.

Emirates launched Fort Lauderdale in 2016. Photo: Emirates.

Where did passengers go over Dubai?

India was by far Emirates’ largest country market to/from FLL, with almost four in ten passengers. It had nearly four times as many passengers as second-placed South Africa, itself similar in volume to Pakistan, Bangladesh – and also Thailand. The top O&Ds were FLL to/from:

  1. Mumbai
  2. Dhaka
  3. Hyderabad
  4. Delhi
  5. Johannesburg
  6. Bangkok
  7. Karachi
  8. Singapore
  9. Bangalore
  10. Kochi
While Emirates’ FLL route achieved an approximate SLF of 90% in 2019, it seems below-average fares helped with this. Photo: Emirates.

Fares from FLL

Analysis of estimated fares from 2019 suggests that FLL underperformed quite significantly. Despite being 4% longer in distance than the carrier’s US average, it seems to have had a 20% lower one-way fare over Dubai and a 21% lower P2P fare. This seems to reflect lower premium demand and it would have helped to drive its SLF.

A comparison with Orlando is interesting. While the distance to Orlando was about 1% shorter, Emirates achieved an approximately 19% higher fare over Dubai, along with a fare about 15% higher to the UAE hub.

Did you fly Emirates from FLL? If so, what were your experiences? Comment below!