Emirates reduces US flights after Trump administration curbs

Emirates airline has announced it is reducing the number of flights to the United States because of reduced demand caused by more stringent US security measures and travel bans on citizens of a number of countries. Etihad Airways said it has no plan to reduce US services. An Emirates spokesperson confirmed the airline will be reducing flights to five of 12 American destinations it currently serves.

From May 1 and May 23, respectively, flights to Fort Lauderdale and Orlando will move from daily to five times a week, while from June 1 and June 2, Seattle and Boston flights will move to a daily service, from twice-daily.

Additionally, from July 1, flights to Los Angeles will become daily, from twice-daily. In total, the cuts will reduce US flights from 126 weekly departures to 101.

"This is a commercial decision in response to weakened travel demand to US. 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 spokesperson said.

Despite "healthy growth and performance", the Emirates spokesperson noted that "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 has, therefore, responded as any profit-oriented enterprise would, and we will redeploy capacity to serve demand on other routes on our global network," the spokesperson added. He added that Emirates will continue to monitor the situation and grow US flight operations "as soon as viable".

Emirates serves 12 US destinations: New York JFK, Newark, Boston, Washington DC, Chicago, Seattle, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, Dallas, Fort Lauderdale, and Orlando. Saj Ahmad, an aviation analyst with StrategicAero Research, noted that "the decision to reduce flights to the USA is not one that Emirates will have taken lightly".

"The biggest impact is the electronics ban which impedes their higher, premium paying passengers who no doubt want to keep their laptops with them to work on flights," he added. "But because they can't, passengers have looked for other connection options beyond Emirates to fly via Europe, for example."

"I see this move as a temporary one, in part because Emirates still enjoys a huge degree of market success on its US-bound flights, and also because the lack of competition means that many passengers will still prefer to fly with Emirates to the US without having the additional burden of stopping and transiting at another, less well equipped gate."