Here’s How Big of a Hit Emirates Took From the Travel and Electronics Bans

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While a big drop in ticket sales could be an airline’s own doing, more often it’s external factors that are to blame. In the case of Emirates Airline, we learned Monday that two recent US initiatives have had a tremendous impact on the carrier’s revenue, specifically on flights to and from the United States.

We’re talking about the US travel ban, and the electronics ban that followed. The former blocked passengers from specific Muslim-majority countries from flying to the United States, and the carry-on electronics ban affected all travelers on certain US-bound nonstop flights from the Middle East and North Africa. For many travelers, going without a laptop on a 12-hour flight is unthinkable, and, as a result, business and leisures flyers alike ended up booking connecting flights, or bypassed affected Middle East airports entirely, going so far as to book travel on Air India, instead.

According to Emirates President Sir Tim Clark, who spoke at the APEX Expo in Long Beach on Monday, both bans had a notable negative impact on ticket sales.

“Taken together, it diminished our demand out of the US and into the US by about 15 to 20%, which of course is a major problem for us,” Clark said. “The interesting thing about it, particularly with the Muslim ban, it had a halo effect in terms of perception for all people in the area, whether they were Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist or whatever. They all believed that they were going to be subjected to very difficult entry and visa requirements. So it sort of expanded into a lot of our West Asian markets — India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Iran of course.”

So travelers who weren’t even subjected to the ban ended up avoiding travel to the US, which obviously caused even more damage to Emirates and other Middle Eastern carriers. As a result, Emirates ended up having to trim some service, and, understandably, passenger loads have likely yet to recover.

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