I written in the past about the big US Airlines (US3), Delta, American and United and their complaints against the three biggest Middle East airlines (ME3), Emirates, Etihad and Qatar. We even had an entire Saverocity Observation Deck Podcast on the topic. For a time, things cooled off. We know that the US3 CEO’s were very optimistic with the new administration, and that could have been part of it. I wonder if this is what they were waiting for.
For background, feel free to read more about the Electronics Ban
Many Things at Play with the Electronics Ban
We know the current administration wants to have some sort of ban or limitation of individuals from certain countries. We know further, that the administration’s attempt at this ban has failed not once, but twice.
So I suppose it should not be surprising to see the administration take an alternative path. While the electronics ban is not nearly as restrictive as the travel bans, the fact is, this will affect many, many people. It will also affect the airlines.
The ME3 will be significantly harmed by this Electronics Ban
I will say right now, that Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar Airways will be significantly hurt by this ban, should it stand. They pride themselves on providing one stop connectivity to most of the world. What value is one stop connectivity, if for that last 15 hour flight home, you have limited productivity. Yes, these airlines have In Flight Entertainment (IFE), but for business travelers, and nearly every traveler, internet connectivity is very important.
For business travelers, it may almost make more sense to connect via Europe or Asia, than to fly from the 10 airports identified in the Electronics Ban. The loss of productivity, the inconvenience of checking a bag, the risk of theft of employer laptop; these are all concerns, and they all work against the ME3.
Are the US3 quietly cheering?
This is an open question at this point. We know that this sort of ban is going to hurt some US airlines like Jetblue and Alaska. I suspect it will likely hurt American as well, as they get connecting passengers from Etihad and Qatar.
Only time will tell, to see how this goes.
And yet, I’m still left wondering – did the US3 get a win here?