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18 May 2024

Dubai airport chief says electronics ban will have minimal impact on passenger numbers

By Reuters

A ban on most carry-on electronics on flights to the United States will not significantly affect passenger numbers at Dubai International, where flights depart to 12 U.S. cities daily, the airport's chief executive said on Thursday.

The US announced on Tuesday new restrictions on flights from airports in eight Muslim-majority countries, including the United Arab Emirates, affecting international airline Emirates which flies from Dubai. The restrictions apply to any device larger than a mobile phone, according to US officials, such as a laptop, tablet and portable DVD player.

Industry experts say the ban starting this Saturday could see business travellers who use laptops to work during flights switch to unaffected carriers.

"If we are very, very diligent in both communicating exactly what the restrictions are and actually have an efficient process to deal with the situation, I don't suggest it will have an impact on numbers," Dubai Airports Chief Executive Paul Griffiths told DubaiEye radio, adding that a "very tiny proportion" may choose to switch airlines.

Dubai International, the world's busiest international airport, is targeting 89 million passengers this year.

Emirates, the only airline to fly direct to the US from Dubai International, will allow passengers to hand over their devices as they board, allowing them to continue to use the gadgets until the last possible moment and minimise disruption, President Tim Clark told Reuters on Wednesday.

Clark, who called the ban disruptive, said the airline was "closely monitoring the business impact of this new security measure, and we will decide on our strategies and interventions accordingly."

The UK followed suit with a similar ban on Tuesday that does not include the UAE.