Apr 21, 2017

Etihad says it has growing US demand despite personal device ban

Etihad seems to be doing much better in the US market despite the Trump bans on passenger carried electronic devices on some ME routes

Ben Sandilands — Editor of Plane Talking

Ben Sandilands

Editor of Plane Talking

Etihad’s A380 will be seen more, not less, in the US

Middle East carrier Etihad has responded to the US bans on passenger computers inside the cabins of its American flights by adding more A380 capacity to its New York flights from June.

Its statement indicates that it has not experienced any loss of business similar to that affecting its ME rivals Emirates and Qatar Airways.

Etihad Airways has experienced no significant change in demand on flights to and from the United States in recent weeks.
Demand continues to remain strong on all 45 weekly services between Abu Dhabi and its six US gateways of New York, Washington, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Dallas.
Effective 1 June, Etihad Airways’ second daily Abu Dhabi – New York service will be upgraded to an A380, making its twice-daily flights on the route an all superjumbo ‎operation. 

This demonstrates our ongoing commitment to the US market regardless of recent developments.


While the American bans on devices carried by passengers on major ME airlines was clearly motivated by pressure by US carriers to crack down on airlines that underscore their own dismal service failings the real issue is the integrity of the FAA in its previously universally applied safety regulations.

The US ban requires potentially inflammable lithium-ion batteries in portable passenger devices to be placed under the cabin floor in selected ME carriers on selected routes, which is contrary to the rules that stipulate carriage inside the cabin, where any battery malfunction can be rapidly isolated and quenched by flight attendants trained in the necessary procedures.

This discriminatory ruling means that the passenger safety of those flying some of the major air routes to the US from the Middle East has been purposefully compromised by a presidential direction.

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21 thoughts on “Etihad says it has growing US demand despite personal device ban

  1. Dan Dair

    This could be a small swipe at the Trump administration, with no consequences for Etihad.?
    Effectively saying in public; “we’re doing really well thanks.” & knowing that they don’t actually have to upgrade aircraft sizes as almost no-one will remember anyway.?

    On the other hand, if the announcement is completely genuine,
    You would have thought that Etihad would have had this in the pipeline for some time.?
    Consequently, they would have had the option to not make this announcement, but chose to make it anyway.

    However, unless it actually has been announced before & this is effectively a rehash for them of old-news, it seems very strange that they’re announcing this upgrade little over a month in advance.?
    Most of the B777 seats will have already been sold & very probably allocated by now.?

    Is Etihad expressing confidence in their US market or thumbing their nose at Trump.?
    Time will tell.?

    1. Deano DD

      Or perhaps some are just moving away from Emirates, their entire network is at the point of saturation and load factors are starting to trend down
      I hear of more and more people routeing their trips to Europe via Asia as they snub Emirate’s mega hub.
      Or they may well have just thrown too much metal to the US, which is likely not the right market for Emirates
      Departing the US and flying to
      Asia (direct from US no need to use ME3)
      Europe (would have to back track unless stopping en-route)
      Australia and NZ (direct from US no need to use ME3)
      South America (direct from US no need to use ME3)
      The Subcontinent (perhaps, but would not be that much demand)
      The Gulf (yes, this would be their primary market)
      Africa (again yes, but couldn’t see that much demand)

      So not really getting why they need 101 flights per week, let alone 126
      I believe that the answer is over capacity and load factors and the Trump ban has been given as a reason
      It seems Emirates never withdraws from routes, they are too proud, but Trump gave them an out on this occasion
      Emirates will only attempt to grow and grow in spite of failed ventures and stick with under performing routes and say “it’s good for the network” while continuing to run on cheap av-gas subsides and government backing until all the hotels built with slave labor are full
      They have no choice as the oil is all but gone
      Not a level playing field, not by a long shot

      1. Dan Dair

        A friend of mine has just flown from the UK to Bali to meet family there.
        She flew by British Airways via Kuala Lumpur.
        I asked her about it & she said she hates the Dubai hub,
        but also that the standard of passenger behaviour on ME3 flights, especially Emirates was something she was actively seeking to avoid.
        She said there are children running about unattended & uncontrolled & she was particularly disturbed & upset by the number of times she’d witnessed ‘Arab’ men shouting at their wives on-board the aircraft & reducing them to tears.
        (Disclaimer: I haven’t seen that myself, though I rarely use those airlines. And she’s British & used to a completely different standard of respect & behaviour from men)

        Anyway, she said she loved her BA flights, including a B787 for the return leg. Though she did say she had one of the few spare seats next to her, right at the back of the plane.!

  2. Deano DD

    I was under the impression that the devices needed to be stored in the belly because terrorists could remove the battery and replace it with an explosive device and set it off by hand in the cabin
    This is why other countries have been asking passengers to switch on their devices at security so as to prove the device had a battery, not a bomb inside
    My understanding was that it had nothing to do with the batteries overheating and catching fire

    1. Dan Dair

      Deano DD,
      You’re right about all of that.

      The issue IMO is exactly that there already are protocols for dealing with this point.
      The airport security services scan the device which is in your hand luggage.
      IF they think there’s an issue, they can ask you to switch it on.
      IF they still have an issue, they can visually examine the battery for signs of tampering
      & they can close-scan the battery for any signs that there might be a small battery AND a bomb contained within the battery housing.?

      If Laptops & such devices go into the hold, they are unlikely to have the same level of scrutiny before being put on the plane.?

      IF there is a genuinely battery-related problem with a laptop or similar device, which busts into flames in the luggage hold, it can be near-impossible to fight the resulting fire,
      whereas, if the thing is in someones hand or at worst in the overhead locker when it bursts into flames, it’s a damned-sight easier for cabin crew to locate it & smother it with fire extinguishing foam.

      The fire related issues are exactly why the FAA first REQUIRED laptops & the like to be carried as hand-luggage,
      IMO the higher level of scrutiny of hand luggage is much more likely to discover a ‘discrete’ bomb than the hold luggage scan.?

      1. Deano DD

        I understand what you are saying

        There is only one slight issue
        Yes security can screen the laptops, but then they would need to do this for every passenger on every flight, not just Emirates flights to the US
        The whole sterile area would need to have EVERY passenger screened
        The ques would be massive
        The only alternative would be to set up screening at the gate, again this would add significant delays to each US bound flight

        The whole argument is
        Was the threat real ?
        If it were concocted by Trump, someone would have spoken up by now (CIA FBI etc)

        1. Dan Dair

          Deano DD,
          These are strange days in the current US administration.
          Trump has openly said he prefers to believe the information provided to him by media outlets such as the Huffington Post, rather than the CIA briefings.?????

          Currently, the presidents office & the CIA seem to have warmed to eachother,
          but, assuming my view to be accurate, the CIA would be making sure all their staff are under-their-thumb at the minute, to ensure a leak of the truth doesn’t spoil the currently cordial relationship.?

          The fact that the Brits sort of supported the US on this issue is an indication that there might be something in it.?
          But equally, the fact that the UK’s ‘banned-list’ of countries (for the same type of items) is substantially different to the US one might infer that the US list is skewed in the direction Trump wants it to be.?
          (of course it could always mean that the Brit’s-list is skewed the way they want it to be.??)

          1. Dan Dair

            Incidentally, I expect to queue for between ten & twenty minutes to have my bags, carry-on and person screened when I travel.
            That seems to have become normal now.?
            If I get to spend less than five minutes getting through the screening-hall I consider I’ve done well. If I spend more than fifteen minutes, I start to get ratty.!

            The screening of electrical & electronic devices in hand-luggage was already high-profile before the Trump ban. Everyone’s bags seem to get scanned & any ‘suspicious’ ones get a proper looking-at.?

        2. Zarathrusta

          Let’s not forget that although screening of baggage and carry on is a necessity nowadays, many governments love creating more visible delays because it “proves” they are doing something and because it scares the population into (they think) believing that they need a “strong” read conservative government to protect them. So don’t assume that delays are a bad thing in government eyes.

  3. Ben Sandilands


    That’s true. But the bans were framed to allow flights from Saudi Arabia, where Trump has business interests, and some Emirates flights via Italy and Greece were exempted and as widely demonstrated, any terrorist seeking to carry out such sn attack is more likely to target US carriers in general rather than this half-assed self interested nonsense about the risk miraculously only applying to those carriers campaigned against by uncompetitive US carriers and operating from three of the toughest hubs on earth when it comes to the screening of passengers and luggage arriving for connections to America or as originating traffic.
    The universality of safety regulations is one of the key planks of making flying safer. Making ad hoc rules to leave selected routes and carriers unprotected from the sort of fires cause by lithium-ion battery failures is an attack on that standard. I’d call it both reckless and stupid. In the meantime, anyone who wanted to cause phone bomb harm to a US carrier has literally thousand of ways of flying from so called high risk states to intermediate hubs and continuing on using US or other non ME carriers to a massive range of American gateways.

    1. Dan Dair

      I’d forgotten about the Saudi Arabia issue.

      It’s worth remembering that the Saudi royal household is collectively extremely (I mean really, really) wealthy & has a number of factions within it
      & that some (but definitely NOT all) of those factions have been ‘outed’ by the CIA & other Western intelligence agencies as ‘active sponsors’ of terrorism.

      Osama Bin-Ladin was a Saudi national by birth.
      Though it is also worth saying that he was banished from Saudi & had his nationality revoked by that country, as a result of his terrorist connections.
      So despite internal factions, it is clear that Saudi itself is not a terrorist state.

      But in the light of what I’ve mentioned here, it’s a much greater surprise to find that Saudi Arabia is NOT on the banned-states list,
      but the tiny nation-states of the ME3 are, when there is little specifically to point an accusing-finger at, other than their (mis)treatment of foreign workers.?

  4. Ben Sandilands


    The Trump bans are a farce. They are easily avoided, and they are full of holes through which any ‘baddie’ can use to evade flights subject to such bans. I find the implied notion that successful Middle East airlines would be a higher target for acts of evil than non Middle East airlines something comical. The natural target for laptop concealed bombs would be the check-in area or terminal area, rather than a Middle East airline. As to long queues caused by full inspection of devices, that is what has been happening at most US, Australian and European and Asian airports that I’ve used since shortly after 9/11. The Americans are just inefficient, and more obviously bloody minded, when it comes to passenger relations than anyone else with the possible exception of the nice people at Dubai airport. A current health issue means I won’t be doing any flying for much of the rest of the year, but I have little reason to believe that this will change by the time I make any family or work trips later this year.

  5. Mark Skinner

    Of course, every time an airline upgrades to an A380, that’s one less B777 required is the message behind the headline. Of course, it’s a bit more complicated, but it’s a subtle way of sending a message.

  6. comet

    Remember the exploding Samsung Galaxy Note phones a few months ago.

    If you turn up with one of these things you’ll be told to stick it in your checked luggage to be stored in the cargo hold.

    The FAA will see nothing wrong with it either.

    1. Zarathrusta

      Actually, they were not allowed to be carried in cabin or in hold.

  7. comet

    Maybe the ME3 carriers should stop direct flights to the USA.

    Order all flights to make a very brief stopover in Milan or Athens – to avoid the new lithium rule – before continuing to the USA.

    The alternative – of compromised safety – is unacceptable. They simply should not be flying when there are lithium devices that are prone to erupting in the cargo hold.

    I’m surprised the ME3 are following the directive. Sooner or later that policy will backfire when they suffer a fire related crash.

    1. Deano DD

      I’m surprised the ME3 are following the directive. Sooner or later that policy will backfire when they suffer a fire related crash

      Then either way Trump wins, more so if there is a crash as they tend to be bad for business anyway, but add to that, there will be talk about it being an act of terror and Trump saying I told you so

      1. Mark Skinner

        Pretty cynical. Slaughtering a planeload of passengers to make a political point. More fake news.

  8. Giant Bird

    From what I read they are not going in checked luggage. They are being collected at the gate and being carried in a separate container and returned when you deplane. Maybe it has special fire suppression or is placed where it is accessible for fire fighting.

    1. comet

      No, placing all the lithium items together in a single container makes the situation much worse.

      If one lithium battery erupts, it is then sitting next to other volatile lithium batteries – the worst possible place – so the whole thing could ignite.

      The ME3 should stand up and resist this madness.

  9. Ben Sandilands

    Deano and Zipper,
    I’ve taken some religious observations out of a comment by Deano DD and deleted a vigorous response to the inaccuracies in that comment made by Zipper, since they are no longer there.

    This isn’t an attempt to suppress freedom of expression, since the internet is on fire on quite a few places in relation to such topics, but to focus on the air transport and safety issues which is where Plane Talking has a strong readership, particularly it seems in key parts of Canberra.

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