DHS exempts Middle Eastern carriers from laptop ban

DHS exempts Middle Eastern carriers from laptop ban

Update 6 July 2017:

I’ve just landed in London and heard that Qatar Airways has also been exempted from the laptop ban, effectively immediately.

Update 5 July 2017:

Effective immediately, DHS has exempted Emirates from the laptop ban as well. In a statement, the Dubai-based carrier stated: “Emirates has been working hard in coordination with various aviation stakeholders and the local authorities to implement heightened security measures and protocols that meet the requirements of the US Department of Homeland Security’s new security guidelines for all US bound flights.”

Fingers crossed Qatar Airways gets an exemption soon…

Update 12.50AST 4 July 2017:

Bloomberg is reporting that Turkish Airlines is the second airline to have the laptop ban lifted. This is a solid win for the beleaguered Istanbul-based carrier as well, and bodes well for Dubai and Doha, given that neither of those two airports have the US pre-clearance facility that was originally thought to have played a role in the exemption for Abu Dhabi and Etihad.

Original post published 12.00AST 4 July 2017:

On Sunday, Etihad Airways fliers received an interesting email from the airline.

The US Department of Homeland Security said that the Abu Dhabi International Airport had complied with new, expanded security measures. Other airports, they also noted, can follow suit if they comply with its new rules. I suspect Dubai Airports and Hamad International are working on this, but Abu Dhabi has the added advantage of a US pre-clearance facility (and thus more US agents) on the premises.

Etihad win

This is great news for Gulf travellers, and extends Etihad a lifeline of sorts. The airline hasn’t been doing so well financially, thanks to a number of bad investments. Stakes in a number of ailing European airlines – like Alitalia and Air Berlin – haven’t provided much return.

The US laptop ban made matters worse. Not long ago the airline announced they’d be vacating San Francisco completely, having recently down-graded the route from daily to 3x/week.

So this is good news. For Etihad travellers to the US to be able to bring their larger personal electronic devices on board is certainly a win for the airline.

Also, it gives them a leg-up (however temporary) against their powerful rivals, Emirates and Qatar. 

To compound matters, Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth fund, the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA), has just announced their 20-year annual rate of return has declined for the second year in a row (to 6.1%).

ADIA is one of the world’s largest SWFs and has been the engine behind the oil-rich emirate’s growth over the last several decades. Given that Etihad, not unlike its Gulf cousins, benefited early on from its wealthy government backer, this could spell trouble for the airline.

It’s in the interest of Gulf-based flyers – like me – to have options. I want to see a strong Qatar, a strong Emirates and a strong Etihad. Competition is good and the consumer benefits.

I hope that Etihad can turn it around.

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