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Thu 6 Apr 2017 02:38 PM

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Aviation chief says Gulf laptop ban on US flights 'intolerable'

IATA CEO says restrictions, which impact airports in UAE, Qatar, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, cannot survive in long term

Aviation chief says Gulf laptop ban on US flights 'intolerable'
Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and CEO.

The United States' ban on electronic devices bigger than mobile phones on direct flights from 10 airports including the UAE, Qatar, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait is "intolerable", according to the CEO of the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and CEO, said in a statement that the restrictions, which were announced in March by US President Donald Trump, "cannot stand-up to the scrutiny of public confidence in the long term".

"It’s intolerable that governments continue to add to the uncertainties facing the air transport industry by failing to engage airline operational know-how on issues that can damage public confidence," said de Juniac.

"The introduction of restrictions on the carry-on of large electronic devices was a missed opportunity and the result was a measure that cannot stand-up to the scrutiny of public confidence in the long term," he added.

On Thursday, Qatar Airways began a laptop loan service on its flights to the United States while on Wednesday, Emirates started a loan facility with Microsoft Surface tablets equipped with Microsoft Office 2016 available for loan on board its US-bound flights.

Etihad Airways started free Wi-Fi and iPads service for its First and Business class passengers from April 2.

The IATA chief's comments come as Middle East carriers posted the strongest air passenger demand growth in the world with a 9.5 percent increase in February compared to a year ago.

Capacity rose 7 percent and load factor climbed for a fourth consecutive month to 74.3 percent, up 1.8 percent over last year.

Globally, IATA said total revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs) rose 4.8 percent, compared to the same month last year.

IATA estimates that, allowing for inflation, the price of air travel has fallen by more than 10 percent in real terms over the past year, accounting for more than half the growth in RPKs in early 2017.

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