Chicago anticipates Emirates flight this year

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The city of Chicago anticipates that Dubai-based Emirates will begin flights to the city's O'Hare International airport before the end of the year.

Matthew Danaher, director of airline and industry relations at the Chicago Department of Aviation, says that the city expects Emirates to begin flights in the second half, at the Routes Americas 2013 forum in Cartagena, Colombia today. He says that the city has received assurances from the airline's president and chairman Tim Clark that service to Dubai would begin this year.

Emirates flies to Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston Intercontinental, Los Angeles, New York John F. Kennedy (JFK), San Francisco, Seattle and Washington Dulles in the USA.

Chicago sees the Middle East as a gap in the network from O'Hare, says Danaher. Once Emirates launches flights and Qatar Airways begins flights to Doha from 10 April, that gap will largely be filled.

Neither American Airlines nor United Airlines, both of which operate hubs at O'Hare, offer nonstop flights to the Middle East from Chicago. Etihad flies to Abu Dhabi from the airport.

Flights to China on Chinese carriers is another gap from the city's international airport. Danaher says that they are beginning to address it with new service on Hainan Airlines to Beijing from 3 September but that they would like to see additional service.

American and United both fly to Beijing and Shanghai Pudong from O'Hare.

Routes to Canada and Mexico on foreign carriers are in Chicago's sights for Midway airport. Danaher says that they have Volaris and Porter but would like to see VivaAerobus return to the airport.

Southwest Airlines subsidiary-AirTran Airways has added international flights to Cancun from Midway and will begin flights to Montego Bay from April and Punta Cana from May.

Danaher says that Chicago regularly meets with American, Southwest and United regarding new domestic flights and filling in what the city sees as gaps in the networks from Midway and O'Hare.

Midway has gained new nonstops to a number of destinations following the conversion of AirTran service to Southwest. Cities include Akron-Canton, Branson, Charlotte, Rochester and Wichita.

Danaher says that the Dallas-based low-cost carrier largely makes the route decisions independently, though the city does speak with the airline regarding them before the announcements.