Air India gains from US laptop ban on Gulf carriers

Passenger numbers on UAE-India route up 18-20% since March, says airline official

Passenger bookings on Air India’s UAE-India routes registered a double-digit growth since a ban was introduced on using laptops and tablets on board US-bound flights, according to an airline official, reports Arabian Business.

In 2016, 2.69 million passengers flew from India to the US of which 1.3 million flew on airlines such as Emirates, Etihad, Qatar that transit through airports such as Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha, according to the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA).

In March, the US introduced a ban on carrying large electronic devices into the passenger cabins of aircraft flying from 10 airports including the UAE, Qatar, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

“There has been an increase of 18 to 20 percent in our passenger load on the UAE-India route and we see many of them transiting to the US and Europe from India,” an airline official told Arabian Business on conditions of anonymity.

“We have also seen a number of Arab nationals using India to transit to the US,” the official added.

He claimed prices for Dubai-Delhi-New York (JFK International Airport) round-trip averages $1,033 (AED3,790) in April compared to prices of Gulf airlines’ direct service from Dubai/Abu Dhabi to JFK ranging from $1,090 (AED4,000) to $1,335 (AED4,900) for a round-trip.

Air India is also offering a free lounge facility to international passengers transiting through India but having to wait for six hours up to 12 hours. Transit passengers do not require visit visa is the wait is less than 12 hours.

Air India operates 63 flights a week on UAE-India route with averaging 900 to 1,000 passengers a week, the official said.

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