Emirates cuts flights to U.S. as Trump's policies hit bookings

Airlines mock laptop ban on social media
Airlines mock laptop ban on social media

Emirates Airline is cutting back on flights to the United States because policies introduced by President Trump's administration have hurt bookings.

"Emirates can confirm that we will be reducing flights to five of the 12 U.S. cities we currently serve," said a spokesman for the Dubai-based airline.

Daily flights from Dubai to Fort Lauderdale and Orlando will be cut to five a week. Flights to Seattle, Boston and Los Angeles will now be once a day, instead of twice.

Emirates and the other Gulf carriers, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways, have been in the firing line of new U.S. policies on immigration and security.

Trump signed a revised executive order last month banning citizens of six Muslim-majority countries from entry. It was struck down by the courts, but the U.S. administration said it will appeal the decision.

Related: Qatar Airways CEO: Laptop ban doesn't make flying safer

Following the travel ban, the U.S. 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.

Emirates allows passengers to check in their devices at the gate and offers loaner laptops to premium travelers. But that hasn't prevented a fall in the number of people wanting to fly with the airline to the U.S.

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

"The recent actions taken by the U.S. 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 U.S."

Related: Trump's travel policies hurting 'U.S. brand' and discouraging visitors

The Gulf airlines have enjoyed rapid growth in their U.S. operations in recent years.

Delta Air (DAL), United Airlines (UAL) and American Airlines (AAL) have repeatedly complained that state subsidies have given the Gulf carriers an unfair advantage. Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways all deny the accusation.

The American carriers want the U.S. government to review the Open Skies agreements that allow their Gulf rivals to fly freely from the United Arab Emirates and Qatar to any U.S. destination.

Speaking to CNNMoney last month, Emirates President Tim Clark rejected suggestions that the U.S. may have introduced the electronics ban as a way of hurting the American carriers' big rivals.

But Emirates isn't the only one feeling the pain. Qatar Airways has also been hit by the U.S. restrictions.

CEO Akbar Al Baker told CNNMoney it had seen a drop in demand, but bookings were only down by less than 10 per flight. Al Baker said the electronics ban would not make flying to the U.S. any safer.

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