Emirates airline announced it will be curbing flights to the US on Wednesday, blaming the Trump administration’s security and immigration measures.
Emirates said flight reductions of 20% will affect five of its American destinations, with the first cutbacks starting next month.
“The recent actions taken by the US government relating to the issuance of entry visas, heightened security vetting, and restrictions on electronic devices in aircraft cabins, have had a direct impact on consumer interest and demand for air travel into the US,” the company said in a statement.
Gulf airlines have expanded rapidly into the US in the last few years, but as Trump administration introduced a travel ban on new visas for people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen (which was subsequently blocked by the courts) demand has fallen.
Emirates’ hub airport Dubai was one of 10 cities in Muslim-majority countries affected by a ban on laptops and other personal electronics in carry-on luggage aboard US-bound flights.
The US travel industry, already fretting that the ban on travellers from a number of Muslim-majority nations is affecting foreign travel generally to the United States, expressed fresh concern after Emirates’ announcement, however.
“The aftermath of 9/11 taught us that we can’t take either global understanding or US market share for granted,” said Jonathan Grella, executive vice president the US Travel Association. “Every limiting security message needs to be offset by a sincere welcome to legitimate, lawful travellers.”
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