Emirates Cuts Flights to U.S. Following Drop in Demand

A passenger buys a ticket at a Emirates Airline counter

The Associated Press reported Wednesday that Emirates is cutting some flights to America because of lesser demand following the Trump administration's push to ban travelers from several Muslim-majority countries, as well as other increased security measures like prohibiting laptops.

Emirates is headquartered in Dubai, which is a major hub for travelers coming from the six countries affected by Trump's travel ban.

Although both moves were blocked by US judges, some travelers have been deterred.

Following the travel ban, the US slapped 9 airlines flying from 10 airports in the Middle East and North Africa - including the three Gulf carriers - with an order prohibiting larger electronic devices in the cabin of aircraft.

Today, Emirates announced it will be reducing flights to five of the 12 us destinations it now serves-perhaps the first sign that a series of policy changes affecting the ease of travel from the Middle East to the U.S.is having tangible effects on passenger numbers. Although both moves were blocked by USA judges, some passengers have been deterred from travelling.

Boston and Seattle's double daily flights will drop to a single daily flight from June, and the Los Angeles double daily flight also drops to daily from July.

In Seattle and Boston, service will be down to one daily flight from two starting June 1 and 2, respectively.

"Market demand has never played a role when the Gulf carriers decide where to fly", says a spokesperson for the Partnership for Open & Fair Skies, which is backed by the three USA airlines and their unions.

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Emirates' announcement comes after Donald Trump ordered a ban on travellers from seven Muslim-majority countries, including Syria and Yemen. The airline says it will make the same cuts to its Orlando, Florida, service starting May 23.

"Until the start of 2017, Emirates' operations in the USA have seen healthy growth and performance, driven by customer demand for our high quality product and our global flight connections".

In its statement, Emirates said it had seen "significant deterioration" in its USA bookings since January but did not offer specific numbers.

On Wednesday, Emirates announced plans to reduce service to the United States amid fallout from the Trump administration's more restrictive travel policies. Superior service offered by Gulf airlines and expanding service in US markets has been putting pressure on USA airlines - like United - in recent years.

The reduction may also have a negative effect on US travelers writ large.

Delta Air, United Airlines and American Airlines have repeatedly complained that state subsidies have given the Gulf carriers an unfair advantage. As the New York Times reports, yesterday President Trump signed an executive order calling for a reexamination of the U.S.'s H-1B visa program that now brings in 85,000 skilled foreign workers a year.

The airline stressed the decision was "commercial".

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