Emirates to cut US flights after Trump travel restrictions

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Emirates Airbus A380 shortly after touching down in AucklandImage source, AFP

Emirates will reduce flights to five US cities from next month, after new security rules targeted travellers from the Middle East.

The Dubai-based airline said the change was due to weaker demand for US travel.

In March, the US banned electronic devices larger than a mobile phone from cabin luggage on flights from 10 airports.

This included Dubai, as well as from other airports in the Middle East, north Africa and Turkey.

US President Donald Trump has also signed two executive orders to bar refugees and nationals of several Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East and north Africa from travelling to the US. Those bans have been contested in court.

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 said last month that demand to the US had fallen by about a third since Mr Trump's announcements.

The airline has also introduced new services to cope with the laptop ban, lending tablets to premium passengers and offering to check in electronics at the gate.

Image source, Emirates

Emirates said it will reduce direct flights to Fort Lauderdale and Orlando to five a week in May from the present one a day.

The airline will also cut back its twice-daily flights to Seattle and Boston in June to one a day, with a similar frequency for Los Angeles from July.

However Etihad, its smaller Abu Dhabi-based rival, said it had not seen a significant change in demand for travel to the US in recent weeks. The airline flies to six US cities.

Emirates started flying to North America in 2004. It now serves 12 US destinations, launching its most recent route, between Athens and Newark, last month.

Its expansion has led to conflict with US airlines, which have accused the group of receiving government subsidies.