Monitoring demand carefully after "surprise" from US government: Emirates CEO

Monitoring demand carefully after "surprise" from US government: Emirates CEO
Emirates CEO Tim Clarke “will make a decision when the time is right,” on adding narrow body aircraft
Published: 28 March 2017 - 6:55 a.m.
By: Shayan Shakeel

Emirates CEO Sir Tim Clark is looking closely at demand for flights to the US, adding that he was "surprised" when the ban on devices inflight on flights from Dubai was announced last week.

"I was surprised Dubai would be included in this because they are so good at what they do. Dubai is at the vanguard of security and systems and has been for a long time. The TSA and Homeland Security in the US have given them many accolades for the work that they do," Clark said in an interview with Bloomberg yesterday.

With 18 flights per day to 11 cities in the United States, Clark said, "so far so good, but we have to see what the next few months will bring us," 

"All this doesn't help, I have to say," Clark said. "There is a degree of adjustment going on, but I can't say how significant it is until next month when people begin making travel plans."

Most of the difficulties encountered have been at US entry points as they organise themselves to deal with the new rules, he said.

"I hope that this will go away with the levels of security that will be kicked in as a result, as we did with liquids and gels, as we did with shoes. In the US they are still taking off their shoes while going through central search," said Clark. 

Clark also voiced his concern when asked if he felt the ban was applied discriminatingly after US carriers had been lobbying the Trump administration against Middle East carriers under the open skies row.

"For a state to cross over into the commercial world and take sides, doesn't make sense to me, and I hope that hasn't been the case," said Clark.

"If there is a concern about activities from terrorist groups, it should be applied to the airline industry universally. These devices can be carried on any airline anywhere," he said, adding, "but we notice that the Germans don't seem to be too concerned about it."

Emirates experiences demand to the US pick up during the summer and winter months, according to Clark.

The Dubai-based carrier has announced a spate of new A380 deployments as well as a new Athens to Newark, New Jersey, route in the last week.

"We're not contemplating major changes, but I have to be quite honest, if demand diminishes because of actions the US government takes, we will have to adjust accordingly. That's just good business," says Clark.

Emirates is also contemplating providing laptops to passengers onboard flights. Clark said that would depend on "if there is longevity to the rule."

"We will be guided by the United states and those governments. If we determine there is longevity to the rule, we'll have to be more creative with how to go about dealing with the laptop requirements in flight, that could be providing laptops to help people do what they need to do while their laptops are in the hold."

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