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MARCH 2017

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President Trump’s impact on travel

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by TOM BALLANTYNE 

March 1st 2017

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Whatever one thinks about U.S. President Donald Trump’s Executive Order (EO) to ban entry of travelers into the U.S. from seven and now six Arab nations, it had an immediate impact on aviation. Read More »

Quite apart from major anti-Trump demonstrations at airports across the U.S., the EO sent airlines rushing to their crew rosters to see how many of their staff had passports from the identified nations. The most recent decision by the White House, to remove Iraq from a revised travel ban, underscored the problem.

Announced at press time, after extensive discussions about alienating key ally Iraq in the fight against Islamic State, President Trump took Iraq off the banned list. A relief for sure but the decision was another example of the confusion the ban is generating with travelers and airlines worldwide.

One survey, conducted a week after the initial ban was announced, revealed flight searches from international origins to the U.S. plummeted 17% and airline bookings to the U.S. dropped 6.5%. The decrease in Asia was even higher, at 14%. The ban may have been blocked by U.S. Federal Courts, but that has not brought an end to travellers’ uncertainty.

The Trump administration has promised to issue a new EO to secure his travel bans. Whatever happens, airline passengers are cancelling or avoiding travel to the U.S. The fall-off in visitors will remove tens of millions of dollars from the U.S. tourism industry and precipitate job losses.

Everyone agrees a sovereign nation has the right to protect its borders, but it should be done through proper security channels and not by blanket bans that discriminate against genuine travelers because of their country of birth or their religion.

Worst of all for the airline industry, President Trump’s ban was introduced without warning. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said it caused confusion at airlines and with travelers. “It also placed additional burdens on airlines to comply with unclear requirements, to bear implementation costs and to face potential penalties for non-compliance,” the association said.

IATA urged all governments to provide sufficient advance coordination of changes in entry requirements so travelers can clearly understand them and airlines can efficiently implement them. The burden of President Trump’s ban should not be born solely by airlines.

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