Here’s some pretty amazing news which will be really welcome for Etihad Airways – All flights from Abu Dhabi to the United States are now exempt from the U.S. Laptop Ban. The news was first reported Sunday by the Associated Press and has now been confirmed by Etihad. A spokesperson said they “welcomed” the development. The change in policy should be effective immediately.
The Laptop Ban was first introduced in March and saw U.S. authorities ban passengers from carrying any electronics larger than a smartphone in the passenger cabin. The ban affected direct flights to the United States from ten airports in eight countries around the Middle East. The United Kingdom followed with a similar ban several days later but Abu Dhabi Airport (along with Doha and Dubai) were never caught up in that policy.
Since the ban was first introduced there had been speculation the U.S. was thinking of extending the extreme measure to many more airports around the world. However, extensive lobbying from Europe and international aviation bodies seems to have had an effect on policymakers in Washington.
On Wednesday, officials from U.S. Homeland Security announced a new plan that involved ‘enhanced security measures’ on all flights arriving into the United States. Airports around the world have been required to prove they meet tough new security requirements. Those airports who fail to pass tests by U.S. officials will still be subject to the ban.
Jassim Saif Al Sulaiti, Qatar’s minister of transport said his country would “respect” the new measures. The process for implementing changes may take up to three week in some cases.
The cities named in the original ban (and still subject to restrictions) are:
- Amman, Jordan
- Kuwait City, Kuwait
- Cairo, Egypt
- Istanbul, Turkey
- Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
- Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
- Casablanca, Morocco
- Doha, Qatar
- Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Laptop Ban to End Soon in Dubai?
Last week, Tim Clark, the president of Dubai-based Emirates said he had spoken with U.S. officials during a recent visit to Washington. Clark claimed those he had spoken to “were hugely sympathetic to the problems it (the laptop ban) is giving us.”
He went on to say that Dubai International Airport would be willing to put in any additional security measures needed to bring an end to the Laptop Ban. This latest news from Abu Dhabi could be a really positive sign for Emirates.
The airline had been forced to cut back some U.S. services following a significant drop in demand but has said passenger numbers are now beginning to recover. Emirates has already made the decision to reinstate a daily service to Orlando, following an upturn in demand.
Etihad Forced to Drop San Francisco Due to Poor Demand
Abu Dhabi-based Etihad currently flies to six destinations in the USA – San Francisco, Los Angeles, Dallas Fort-Worth, Washington DC, Chicago and New York City. Earlier this year, James Hogan, the airline’s recently departed CEO said he had no plans to expand Etihad’s presence in the U.S.
Unfortunately, following the Laptop Ban, Etihad has seen passenger demand wane on its U.S. routes and has said it will be dropping San Francisco on October 29th. Hopefully, this latest news will be a really positive boost for Etihad. The airline closed cabin crew recruitment in December 2016 and has shown no signs of actively hiring new crew.