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01 Jun 2017

BY Tom Parry


Electronics ban scrutinised­ at Ultratravel Forum

The boss of Etihad Airways has branded the US’s electronics ban “not good” for the reputation of carriers in the region.

UltraTravel Forum 2017 group shot

Affluent travellers “want to stay with someone they are confident can deliver [effective security]," after Tunisia

Although the ban was “not a disaster” for the Abu Dhabi-based airline, chief executive Peter Baumgartner questioned the way the rules were hastily put in place by US authorities.

A ban on electronic devices larger than a mobile phone in passenger cabins on direct flights to the US came into force in March, covering 10 airports across the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey.

Speaking to delegates at the Ultratravel Forum in London last week, Baumgartner also queried the US’s choice of airports.

He also slammed the “huge logistical effort” of implementing the ban with such short notice.

Baumgartner praised Etihad’s work to limit the disruption caused after the ban was enacted, telling delegates that only 4% of passengers on the carrier’s first US flight after it came into force brought banned electronics to the boarding gates.

“We dealt with it very well… it was not a disaster,” said Baumgartner.

Etihad has since begun lending approved tablet devices to its business- and first-class passengers travelling on US-bound services.

Discussing security for luxury hotels in face of threats from terrorism, Jennifer Cronin, president, Niccolo Hotels & Marco Polo Hotels, said affluent travellers “want to stay with someone they are confident can deliver [effective security], especially after what we saw in Tunisia.”

Katie Benson, regional vice-president Europe, The Jumeirah Group, said Dubai – where the brand is based – had always been seen as a safe destination in terms of security and politically.

Simon Palethorpe, senior vice-president, Cunard, said there had been “quite a few stages” last year when the line altered sailings due to geopolitical incidents, with Cunard taking customers’ opinions into account when deciding on repositioning sailings.

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