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Mon 7 Mar 2016 01:56 PM

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UAE seeks Hungary hub to boost onward flights capacity

UAE aims to establish Budapest as a bridgehead in move that could allow local airlines to carry people between central Europe and the US

UAE seeks Hungary hub to boost onward flights capacity
Saif al-Suwaidi, director general of the UAEs General Civil Aviation Authority.

Fifth-freedom rights for UAE carriers to serve the US via Hungary are being sought by the UAE’s government.

Saif al-Suwaidi, director general of the UAE's General Civil Aviation Authority, said in an interview, that the application for so-called fifth-freedom rights concerns services to two points beyond Hungary which have yet to be determined, but could include the US.

According to Peter Szijjarto, Hungary’s foreign minister, his government is “open to such cooperation” and aims to start discussions soon.

The so-called fifth-freedom rights open up completely new markets that the concerned airlines otherwise would not be able to access.

Since 2013, Emirates has been extending a Dubai-Milan service on to New York, tapping travel between northern Italy and the eastern US with Airbus Group SE A380s seating more than 450 people.

Tim Clark, the company’s president, said last year that Emirates was looking at fifth-freedom opportunities and that Greece had asked it to consider extending flights from Dubai to the US, which has no Athens service.

Proposals from the UAE for Swiss flights to carry on to Mexico may be resolved this month, the Swiss Federal Office of Civil Aviation said Thursday.

Emirates’s Budapest-Dubai flight already gives Hungary a one-stop link to major cities in the Asia-Pacific, Middle East and parts of Africa, but is of no help in providing routes to the Americas.

Hungary has lacked a flag carrier since the collapse of Malev Zrt. in 2012, with Beijing and Qatar being the only long-haul routes in addition to Emirates’s Dubai service.

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