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Emirates will adjust its offering if customer demand drops following a U.S. ban on in-flight electronics and called for the measure to be imposed more widely.
The world’s biggest long-haul carrier will be watching bookings to its U.S. destinations “very carefully” to monitor any declines, Emirates President Tim Clark said in an interview with Bloomberg TV in Dubai. If there’s a risk that laptops can be used during flights for terrorist activity, then the restriction “should be applied to the airline industry universally,” he said.
The U.S. prohibits travelers on non-stop flights from 10 Middle Eastern airports from bringing large electronics into the aircraft cabin, a rule that was announced last week and came into effect on Saturday. The ban deals an additional blow to Persian Gulf carriers including Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways after President Donald Trump earlier this year restricted citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S.
If customer demand diminishes due to “whatever actions the United States government takes, we will have to adjust accordingly, that’s just good business,” Clark said. Emirates may explore more “creative” ways to work around the ban if it remains in place over the long term, including providing government-approved devices onboard its U.S-bound flights.
After Trump’s initial executive order banning Muslim entrants, Emirates said the rate of bookings growth dropped. The cumulative effect of the U.S. government’s policies won’t “help” demand for Emirates flights during the peak summer travel season, Clark said.
Still, no changes are planned yet and Emirates expects “robust demand” on its new Athens-Newark route this year. The first 48 hours of the ban’s implementation have proceeded without customer complaints, Clark said.
“So far, so good,” he said. “It’s still early days, we have to see what the next few months will bring us.”
©2017 Bloomberg L.P.
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