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Emirates Airline faces headwinds in US, tailwinds in China

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-04-19 14:00

DUBAI — As the US laptop ban on some countries in Middle East has weighed on traveling between Dubai and the US, passenger demand from China to Dubai has soared, a senior official of Emirates Airline said on Tuesday.

Thierry Antinori, chief commercial officer of the airline in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), made the remarks while addressing the media ahead of the annual tourism fair, Arabian Travel Market in Dubai.

"I do not want to go deep there as we will report annual results in May, but there are indications and quotes from industry experts, like from the CEO of Marriott Hotels Arne Sorenson, that the Middle East passenger demand for flights to the United States declined by double-digit rates," Antinori said.

Large-sized electronic devices like laptops and tablet computers have been banned for six months from March 21 on direct flights to the US from 10 airports in eight countries, namely Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, Turkey and Morocco.

The state-owned carrier Emirates, the biggest airline in the Middle East, flies to 11 destinations across the US.

Incoming travelers from China, on the other hand, "increased in the last month by 33 percent," he said.

Earlier in the week, the UAE General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs said up to 265,698 Chinese tourists visited Dubai in the past five months since UAE began granting visa on arrival for Chinese citizens.

New flights to Chinese cities Yinchuan and Zhengzhou as Emirates' fourth and fifth destination in China in May 2016 were fueling the success story, he added.

Earlier in the year, the government-owned Dubai Tourism and Commerce Marketing said visitors from China to Dubai in 2016 stood at 540,000, up 20 percent from a year earlier.

Dubai aims to attract at least 20 million visitors by 2020, when the state hosts the World Expo.

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