Emirates to cut flights to US cities after flagging demand

Dubai-based airline to reduce capacity to five US cities after continuing electronics ban impacts demand

Emirates will cut flights to five of US cities as demand deteriorated after US restrictions on travel and on-board electronics affecting Middle East carriers and passengers.

The world’s biggest international airline will reduce capacity to Boston, Los Angeles, Seattle, Orlando and Fort Lauderdale in the coming weeks, the Dubai-based company said in a statement. Emirates will re-deploy the capacity to serve demand on other routes across its global network.

“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 company said in the statement. “Over the past three months, we have seen a significant deterioration in the booking profiles on all our US routes, across all travel segments.”

The move could be seen as a victory for moves by President Donald Trump’s administration to tighten travel policies. Emirates and other state-owned Gulf carriers have been a frequent target of US rivals who accuse them of competing unfairly by taking government subsidies. Emirates’ Dubai hub was one of the 10 airports impacted by a ban on electronics in carry-on luggage on US flights.

Services to Seattle, Boston and Los Angeles will drop to daily from twice daily, while Fort Lauderdale and Orlando will get five flights a week, compared with daily services now. The changes will be phased in starting on May 1.

Emirates, which serves 12 US cities as part of its network of more than 150 destinations worldwide, will “closely monitor” the situation with the “view to reinstate and grow” its US operations as soon as viable, it said.

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Posted by: sarah

For the record, I have to fly to the States next month to the city of Denver and will be flying Lufthansa, not because I prefer Lufthansa, but because I don't want to transfer within the US to a US carrier from an Emirates flight to Denver. The thought of boarding a US carrier now is frightening, but would feel like boarding a plane worse than rural China. I wish Emirates flew to Denver, but they don't unfortunately, otherwise I would fly Emirates which I do to other parts of the world especially where I can board the A380. Why on earth Lufthansa does not fly a A380 to the States is perplexing if they have these planes in their fleets. Love Emirates, its my airline of choice. As reported, even Singaporeans are avoiding travel to the US, not because of a Muslim ban, but because of the violence levels which make the US seem very unstable from overseas. Dragging a passenger up the aisle did not help their tourist market either, glad they left the Gulf market.

Posted by: Anna

As a UAE resident for last 10 years, I have stopped flying Emirates and Etihad four years ago due to them filling up their planes like its cattle class and cheap for people outside the UAE.

I fly Lufthansa or SWISS nowadays, no long queues at check in and boarding, planes not too crowded (most of the time I have a vacant seat next to me in Economy) and more importantly, they don't have 40-50 cabin crew marching down the aisle every 5 minutes. Plus better rates, so Emirates and Etihad have lost a customer long time ago due to their strategy.

Posted by: Normal Citizen

@ sarah: Your comment is wrong as far as it concerns Lufthansa. LH does offer daily A380 flights from their FRA base to the US: JFK, SFO, LAX, IAH, MIA. Other airlines (AF, BA) based in Europe also offer more destinations from their respective bases. But they are privately owned (public not government owned) and have to "break-even": not only fill their planes with passengers, but also at an acceptable fare. Some state-owned airlines fly to some destinations "to show the flag".

Posted by: Nick James

I understand the feelings of people not wanting to travel to the US. Donald Trump has said that he needs to make the US safe again. From that it obviously means that it is not safe at the moment.

Should you be risking that trip to Denver?

Posted by: dxb_yvr

Cutting the flights was bound to happen even without the ban. A lot of those flights have been empty for a year as many people and companies in Dubai have stopped flying with Emirates, especially in business class due to prices. Get your pricing right @emirates.

Posted by: MrEd

The issue with Emirates and other Gulf airlines is not their pricing per se for the majority of customers, but the pricing for the 10-20% of passengers who live in or who want to travel to Dubai directly.

If you are flying from India, for example, via Dubai to the US, then Emirates is very good value. On the other hand, if you lived in Dubai and want to travel the same route, you have to pay a lot more.

Of course this is supply and demand - we pay more to travel direct. However, one of Emirates' major issues is the decline in Dubai-based passengers, particularly business ones, due to the oil price fall. It is these passengers along with those flying in business and first class where Emirates makes most of its margins.

Customers flying via Dubai pay less and therefore are less profitable.

For businesses and passengers based in Dubai, Emirates should lower their prices to win back our custom. But to do so would substantially erode its profit margins.

Posted by: Patrick

i can never fly Emirates of Qatar or even Etihad, as using a laptop on flight to do work is essential to me while flying to the US, having a device provided by the airline is not a solution as all my files docs etc. are stored on my laptop. I am looking at other alternatives other than Gulf airlines.

Posted by: Joe

I will personally keep on flying with Emirates, Qatar airways and Etihad to the USA even without having my electronic devices with me in the cabin, much better than to fly the lousy United and other US airlines.
Safety, good service and customers' respect are much more important than my devices. I'd rather be without my devices on Emirates, Qatar airways and Etihad, than to be dragged out of the airplane or having my luggage lost with United who has no respect whatsoever to its clients.

Posted by: Telcoguy

I seriously doubt many people will chose other airlines, most likely outcome is that people will stop flying to the US.
It was a painful experience before (that being a white westerner) it will simply get worst. The "muslim" ban, the laptop ban, and not the "if we can not beat our competitors we beat our customers" is truly a perfect storm for tourism/travel.
Oh well, I am sure none of us will be missed.

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