The Emirates airline on Wednesday announced it would be reducing flights to the U.S. in response to “weakened travel demand” amid pushback to President Trump’s travel ban and other administration restrictions.
The Middle East’s biggest airline said it would be “reducing flights to five of the 12 US cities we currently serve.”
The airline’s move is a “commercial decision in response to weakened travel demand to US,” an airline representative said in a statement.
“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 airline will move its daily services at Fort Lauderdale and Orlando to just five days a week. Its services in Seattle, Boston and Los Angeles will also be cut from twice-daily to daily service.
Emirates said it had seen “healthy growth and performance” until the start of 2017.
“However, over the past 3 months, we have seen a significant deterioration in the booking profiles on all our US routes, across all travel segments,” the statement said.
“Emirates has therefore responded as any profit-oriented enterprise would, and we will redeploy capacity to serve demand on other routes on our global network.”
Emirates said it will keep an eye on the situation “with the view to reinstate and grow our US flight operations as soon as viable.”
The announcement comes after a report Tuesday said Emirates had seen a drop in traffic to the U.S. following Trump’s effort to bar travel to the U.S. from several predominately Muslim countries and the ban on large electronics being brought on U.S.-bound flights from select airports in the Middle East.
Gulf carriers such as Emirates, which has worked hard to boost its image in the U.S and even tapped actress Jennifer Aniston as a spokeswoman, have been scrambling to contain the fallout from the Trump administration’s new security measures.
Some airlines started offering workarounds, such as providing loaner laptops and iPads to travelers on U.S.-bound flights or allowing passengers to check large electronics at the gate prior to boarding.
But airlines have still been worried about the damage of the electronics ban on their business and reputation.
The United Kingdom announced a similar electronics rule, but that ban does not affect Emirates, Qatar and Etihad, which have been major industry rivals in the U.S.
Tim Clark, the president of Emirates, told CNN that the security protocols will be “hugely disruptive” and he questioned why only some airlines and airports are singled out.
“After all, if these devices are viewed by the United States and the United Kingdom as potential instruments of threat, they can be loaded on any airplane anywhere,” Clark said. “To suggest that Dubai doesn’t have the equal capabilities or better than the Europeans, the Americans and the Asians in terms of search, interdiction and surveillance, I find amazing.”
—Melanie Zanona contributed.
Emirates reducing US flights amid ‘weakened travel demand’ – The Hill