The first direct flight between Dubai and Miami arrived at Miami International Airport on Thursday.
The arrival marks Emirates’ launch of four weekly flights between the two cities. The company canceled the same service from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport last year.
Passengers on the new route of about 15-16 hours in the air will travel on Emirates’ Boeing 777 jets, which feature eight private suites in first class, and operate on Sundays, Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays.
Bigger cargo opportunities and more international connections lured the United Arab Emirates airline to Miami, said Essa Ahmad, Emirates divisional vice president for the U.S. and Canada.
“We’ve seen that there is an economic viability on this route…the prospect of increasing the business is much higher,” said Ahmad. “It makes better sense to go out of Miami.”
Thursday’s flight was the first Emirates flight to Miami in the airline’s history and the first-ever direct flight between the two cities. Pilots waved U.S. and U.A.E. flags out the cockpit windows as the plane pulled into its Miami gate following a water cannon salute from green Miami-Dade Fire Rescue trucks.
Emirates currently operates four weekly passenger flights between Orlando International Airport and Dubai, in addition to service to 11 other U.S. airports.
Miami International Airport is the fifth largest cargo airport in the country, measured by landed weight, according to the FAA. Cargo infrastructure allows airlines that operate passenger flights from the airport to take on cargo business, too, which is an added perk, said Chris Mangos, director of marketing for the Miami-Dade Aviation Department. Emirates began cargo-only flights from MIA in October 2020.
Florida is the sixth-largest exporting state to the U.A.E., according to a 2020 report by the country’s Washington, D.C., embassy. That year, computer electronic product manufacturing and machinery manufacturing were the largest exporting sectors, the report found.
Current bookings on the new MIA route are mostly made up of people going on vacation or visiting family and friends, said Ahmad. Business travel bookings are starting to pick up, but still lag at this point in the COVID-19 pandemic.
Emirates is the fourth airline to announce its launch from MIA in the last year, following Southwest Airlines, JetBlue and Spirit Airlines, which previously operated exclusively from Fort Lauderdale in South Florida.
“We are grateful another airport has lost Emirates for our gain,” said Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava.