Emirates cuts flights to U.S. in wake of electronics travel ban

The biggest airline in the Middle East says it will immediately start offering fewer flights to the U.S., a direct response to dwindling demand following new U.S. rules banning passengers from bringing some portable electronics on flights from certain destinations.

Emirates said Wednesday it will reduce flights to five of its 12 U.S. destinations. It called the move a “commercial decision in response to weakened travel demand” stemming from news last month that the U.S. would mandate that small electronics will no longer be allowed on board flights from 10 cities in 8 Middle Eastern and North African nations.

The official reason for the ban cited security concerns that such devices could be used to take over or otherwise harm a flight, but critics said it was a backhanded way of making flights on some airlines less desirable, which would help U.S. carriers.

No U.S. carriers offer direct flights to any of the affected cities, and they have complained bitterly that airlines such as Emirates, Qatar Airways and Etihad are unfairly subsidized by their governments.

electronics ban US

The airports affected are in 10 cities in 8 Middle Eastern and African countries. (CBC)

Emirates extended an olive branch to upset customers earlier this week by offering the complimentary use of tablet computers while on board for first-class passengers. But the new rules seem to be eating into demand regardless, which is why the airline said it was cutting back.

“The recent actions taken by the U.S. 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 U.S.,” Emirates said in a release.

Currently, Emirates offers 126 flights between Dubai and the U.S. But that number will now be cut to 101 after the changes, which include:

  • A reduction in Emirates flights to Boston, Los Angles, and Seattle, from twice daily to once daily.
  • A reduction in flights to Ft. Lauderdale and Orlando, from once daily to five per week.

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