The impact of the US and UK electronics ban has created new ripples within the travel industry:
IATA Calls for Improved Communication around Airline Safety
In response to the electronics ban, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) called for a better dialogue between regulators and airlines.
IATA Director General and CEO Alexandre de Juniac voiced the concern at the IATA Safety and Flight Operations Conference on April 24th. de Juniac cited the US and UK electronics ban as a prime example of poor communication.
Neither the US or UK consulted the airline industry before changing security measures. Worst still, the changes went against standard airline safety practices for electronic device storage. de Juniac said the departure from airline standards shook public confidence. In addition, de Juniac argued that the safety implications were not properly addressed.
“The learnings from this are many,” de Juniac said. “Governments need to share information, they need to consult with industry, and they need to support the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) as it develops a global aviation security plan.”
IATA’s concerns are shared by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). Earlier this month, the EASA released a bulletin on increased fire risk from storing electronics in the cargo hold.
Emirates to Reduce Flights to United States
Starting May 1st, Emirates will reduce flight service to Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Boston.
When announcing the changes, an airline spokesperson cited current US policy as the cause. Specifically, restricted visa issuance and the electronics ban had lessened travel demand to the US:
– Emirates spokesperson, in an emailed statement to Gulf News
As a result, the first round of flight reductions will begin May 1st in Fort Lauderdale. Daily service to Fort Lauderdale will drop to five days a week. Orlando will experience the same decrease starting May 23rd.
Service reductions to the remaining cities will begin in the summer. Both Seattle and Boston will start once-daily service instead of twice daily. This change is effective in Seattle on June 1st and on June 2nd in Boston. Los Angeles will be the last to experience decreases. Beginning July 1st, twice-daily service to Los Angeles will be cut to once-daily.
New Zealand considering its own Electronics Ban
New Zealand’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is considering increasing its security measures. Transport Minister Simon Bridges confirmed this in an interview with Reuters on Sunday. Bridges also said that CAA changes could include banning electronics from certain Middle Eastern flights. The following day, Prime Minister Bill English confirmed the possibility.
“A number of our security partners put those arrangements in place,” said English. “With this particular proposition there’s a balance between inconvenience for passengers, many of whom live off their laptop on the one hand, but on the other hand it’s making sure that the flying is safe.”
Any security changes made by the CAA would impact travelers flying from Doha, Qatar and the UAE city of Dubai. Emirates and Qatar Airways, the two airlines providing direct flights into New Zealand, would also be impacted.
The CAA says assessing screening procedures is routine and no deadline has been set for potential changes. However, any decision the CAA makes will be independent of New Zealand’s government.
The Prime Minister plans to meet with Emirates Chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed al-Maktoum to discuss New Zealand’s openness to additional services.
As current travel regulations are indefinite, we will continue monitoring the situation and updating our readers.