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Emirates remains committed to the U.S. market despite plans to slash 20 percent of its flights in the wake of tougher security and visa measures put in place under the Trump administration, the airline’s president said Thursday.
In his first interview since announcing the cutbacks, Tim Clark told The Associated Press that the Mideast’s biggest carrier has no intention of pulling out of the 12 cities it currently flies to.
He said the decision to cut flights to five cities was a temporary response to a clear drop in demand, and does not signal a desire by Emirates to halt its expansion in the world’s largest aviation market.
“This is not a permanent arrangement. … I do not see this as a paradigm shift,” he said. “Obviously our plans remain in place and we are as bullish and as confident about the U.S. markets as we have been.”
Emirates said Wednesday it was cutting 25 of the 126 weekly flights it operates into the U.S. from its Dubai hub starting next month. It blamed the move on stiffer U.S. security measures and attempts to ban travelers from some Muslim-majority nations since President Donald Trump took office.
Clark declined to detail how much of a financial hit the Dubai government-backed carrier has taken over the past three months, but he described the falloff in passenger demand as “significant.”
“It is not something that Emirates does lightly when it starts pulling capacity out of markets that it’s spent millions of dollars developing and operating,” he said. “So when it gets to this, suffice to say they are falls which cause us to make those kinds of changes.”
Emirates does not provide financial details solely for its U.S. operations. The Americas region, which also includes routes to Canada and Latin America, generated $3.3 billion in revenue, or 14 percent of total sales, in the fiscal year ending March 2016, according to Emirates’ last annual report.
The cutbacks will mean twice daily Emirates flights to Boston, Los Angeles, and Seattle will fall to once a day. Daily flights to Fort Lauderdale and Orlando will be trimmed to five per week.
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