In a surprising and unexpected decision, last month Trump’s administration banned passengers from bringing anything bigger than a smartphone on some flights to the US. He supported this decision alleging security concerns prompted this measure.
In a recent interview to CNNMoney, Akbar Al Baker, CEO of Qatar Airways, opined on the matter declaring that: “I don’t think this ban was necessary at all. People who want to disrupt aviation will do it from other places where there is no ban.”
Al Baker continued further to criticize the manner by which the restrictions enacted were hasty and introduced without “proper discussion.” In doing so, the CEO underlines the inefficiency of the measure right from the start.
“If [Trump] continues this way, at the end of the day you will have people sitting in the airplane with underwear and nothing [else] on them,” Al Baker stated in that same interview to CNNMoney given soon after the ban became official. “I don’t think this is really the correct way of solving security problems. In today’s day and age, we have so much advancement in detection systems that we should utilize them.”
Following the implementation of the ban, Qatar Airways has experienced a decrease in bookings. This is likely attributed directly to the measure, as the ban specifically targeted nine airlines that have direct flights from the Middle East and North Africa to the US.
Al Baker publically responded to the issue by declaring that, “Yes, we [Qatar Airways] have had a drop in passengers but it’s a manageable drop and people have started to realize that there are other ways to use laptops.” His response displays a confident attitude in believing the fall to be temporary as it is merely prompted by the initial fear of the tangible implications of the ban. Furthermore, Al Baker continued on to reveal that this decrease in bookings was less than 10 per flight, thus it truly is minor and the company is not concerned that the ban will cause long-term damage to their business.
Passengers of these flights impacted by the ban now have to check in their laptops and tablets prior to boarding. They also have the option of handing their gadgets in at the gate so that they may be stored in the hold. In the days directly following the introduction of the ban, Qatar Airways announced that it was offering loaner laptops to business-class passengers aboard any of their flights for free.
The other major Gulf carriers negatively impacted by this measure, Emirates Airline and Etihad Airways, have implemented procedures similar to this of Qatar Airways in attempts to defend their premium passengers and provide more comfort for such.
However, the US is not the only country to implement such measures. The UK recently caught airlines off guard as it announced the creation of a similar electronics ban on flights from certain Middle Eastern and African nations. However, Qatar Airways and the other major Gulf carriers were not among those impacted by the UK’s latest ban.
These recent measures have sparked alarm among some business leaders in the Middle East as they believe the ban could potentially be intent on disadvantaging Gulf carriers which are facing accusations by their American competitors of profiting from large government subsidies.
Emirates President Tim Clark also spoke with CNNMoney for an interview last month, following the announcement of the ban. Clark emphasized that he could not comprehend that the US was utilizing security concerns as an excuse to justify their attack on commercial issues. Emirates declared that it supports over one million US jobs through its flights to the US and orders of Boeing jets.
Similarly, Al Baker claimed that his airline supports the US economy through its purchases of American goods and investments in the US.
“We are today living in a globalized world and you really cannot close your doors,” said Al Baker. “Trump is not a nationalist, Trump is a pragmatist. He is looking after America first and we are supporting him in America first.”
Featured Image via Wikimedia.