Commentator Accuses U.S. of Deliberately Stifling Airline Competition

Sultan Al Qassemi an Emirati commentator accused the United States of trying to rein in air carriers Etihad, Emirates and Qatar Airways from the Gulf through the recent ban on taking large electronics inside the cabin of airplanes.

Under new rules, that the U.S. announced Tuesday, passengers from 10 airports in the Middle East and North Africa are not permitted to bring electronics aboard that are bigger than a smartphone when flying to the United States.

Airports on that list included Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Doha bases for the three largest carriers in the Gulf.

In a piece Al Qassemi had published Friday on a website, he said the ban had been a pretext to hurt airlines in the Gulf so that passengers would switch to airlines from the U.S.

That the restrictions are no applicable for other airlines that have lower safety record standards means one of two things.

One the U.S. port authorities don’t trust carriers from the Gulf, all of which have safety records that are impeccable or and most likely, the move had been designed to give U.S. carriers an unfair advantage.

Al Qassemi highlighted the lobbying efforts of several carriers in the U.S. for amendments to the open skies agreement in the U.S. with the Gulf region.

This past February, a number of airline CEOs in the U.S. pressed new president Donald Trump to place restrictions on the three leading Middle East airlines, which they say receive over $50 billion in subsidiaries from the state.

The request was not accepted at the time due to a large business generated by the carriers for other businesses in the U.S. such as Boeing the plane maker and General Electric the huge conglomerate.

The Partnership for Open and Fair Skies is backed by Delta, American and United and said earlier in March that over 1.2 million jobs in the U.S. were at risk due to alleged trade violations by Qatar and the UAE.

Al Qassemi added that this measure was the latest protectionist policy of the U.S. that damages competitiveness of the big three in the Gulf after a White House administration ban on people holding passports from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Yemen and Sudan.

Paul Griffiths the COE at Dubai Airports said he expects these new restrictions will have a limited impact on the number of passengers flying.

The airport is planning to implement a new system for check-in for electronics.

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