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US travel and laptop bans spark concern among Gulf airlines


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US travel and laptop bans spark concern among Gulf airlines

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The US travel ban on people from some predominantly Muslim countries and restrictions on electronic devices have been a major talking point at this year’s Arabian Travel Market.

Long-haul air passenger arrivals in the states fell by 4.3 percent in the first three months of this year according to travel analysts ForwardKeys.

Dubai International Airport reported a 4.3 percent decline in North American passenger traffic for March.

Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al Baker told Euronews there is no need for the electronics ban: “There has been some uncertainties with certain categories of passengers, who got a bit concerned about why laptops are not allowed. It is a misperception of security requirements by the American administration, which in my opinion was really not necessary.”

Emirates recently said it will reduce its flights to five US cities from May linked to a decline in demand and expand its business elsewhere in the world.

Adel Al Redha, Emirates Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer: “We are flying to 12 destinations in the US. Last year we managed to carry more than 55 million passengers. There is a high demand and a good growth for the company. And we continue to embark in our expansion plan.”

Some US airlines have accused carriers like Emirates, Etihad and Qatar of expanding with unfair government subsidies.

The US government has denied the ban on laptops in plane cabins is a commercial move against the Gulf airlines rather than being based on security concerns.

United’s recent troubles also gave Qatar Airways’ CEO Akbar Al Baker an opportunity to attack his US rival. Speaking at the Arabian Travel Market he said: “You can see how wicked they are, of how they treat their passengers. We treat our passengers with respect. First of all, we would never offload a passenger in Qatar Airways even if it was the CEO of the airline that wants to travel.”

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