Emirates cuts US flights by 20 per cent due to drop in demand

Emirates, the Middle East's largest airline cut its flights to the US by 20 per cent yesterday, as it blamed a drop in demand on tougher US security measures and Trump administration attempts to ban travelers from some Muslim-majority nations.

The Dubai government-owned carrier's decision indicated that new measures imposed on US-bound travellers from the Mideast could be financially hurting the fast-growing Gulf carriers that had expanded rapidly in the US.

Ten cities in Muslim-majority countries, including Dubai had been affected by a ban on laptops and other personal electronics in carry-on luggage aboard US-bound flights.

The airlines' hub at Dubai International Airport, the world's third-busiest, was also a major transit point for travellers who were affected by president Donald Trump's executive orders temporarily barring entry to citizens of six countries.

Under the latest travel ban, new visas for people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen have been suspended. Also the US' refugee programme had been frozen. Like an earlier ban that also included Iraqi citizens, it had been blocked from taking effect by the courts.

According to the Dubai-based carrier, the change was due to weaker demand for US travel.

An Emirates spokeswoman said, "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.

"Over the past three months, we have seen a significant deterioration in the booking profiles on all our US routes, across all travel segments."

Emirates president Tim Clark had said last month that demand to the US was down about a third since the announcements.

Meanwhile, the airline said it would cut the number of direct flights to Fort Lauderdale and Orlando to five a week in May from the present one a day.