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Monday, 03 April, 2017, 10 : 49 AM [IST]

Global Paradox!

Paradox! Amid growing concerns of terrorism on commercial aviation, the US and UK have implemented a temporary ban on carrying portable electronic devices like laptops, DVDs, tablets, e-readers, cameras and other gadgets larger than a cell phone in the cabin baggage on flights originating from select airports in the Middle East. These items are allowed to be only carried in the checked in luggage. The ban is also impacting passengers travelling from India to the US and UK and transiting through the ban earmarked airports, as a major chunk of air passenger traffic from India is routed by the Gulf carriers. This ban comes at a time when the travel & tourism industry India in general and across the world, in particular, is deliberating on technology driving future growth. Analysts believe that this move is not a workable solution to ensure safety & security, and in fact will create a major hassle for passengers, especially at a time when technology is complementing travel in real time. TravelBiz Monitor speaks to experts.

Alexandre de Juniac,
Director General and CEO, IATA

The current measures are not an acceptable long-term solution to whatever threat they are trying to mitigate. Even in the short term it is difficult to understand their effectiveness. And the commercial distortions they create are severe. We call on governments to work with the industry to find a way to keep flying secure without separating passengers from their personal electronics.

Greeley Koch, Executive Director,
ACTE (Association of Corporate
Travel Executives)

The first rule in business travel is not to be separated from anything essential to the success of your trip. And the most important component is your laptop or tablet. Travellers who do not check baggage normally, will now have to check their laptops, tablets, and e-readers on the affected flights. Baggage goes missing every day. Can you imagine the consequences of losing a week’s, or a month’s work, plus your confidential corporate data to a luggage theft?... Travellers

want the best security,” said Koch. “But without further explanation, these new restrictions will do nothing but breed further skepticism in government’s perception of business travel. They want security that is less reactionary and based more on eliminating potential threats before they evolve. And they want an explanation.

Peter Kerkar, Director,
Cox & Kings Ltd.

Security is paramount and we cannot debate on it. The Indian traveller has adapted quite well to different security scenarios at different points of time. There will be inconvenience initially but they will continue to fly. The major gulf carriers carry over 30% of our outbound travel with seamless connectivity and Indians will continue to partronise them.

Manoj Chacko, CEO,
SOTC Business Travel

The new security measure banning many electronic devices on flights is a major concern for business travellers than leisure travellers as they will have to reconsider their travel through airports in the Middle East. The new regulation is expected to have great impact on the Indian business traveller transiting through some of these airports, such as Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Qatar and Istanbul while travelling to the US. A majority of travellers will now avoid a Middle Eastern airline carrier because of the necessity to have your laptop and iPad on person while travelling. Many flights to the US transit through these airports which have been included in the restrictions list. Indian travellers largely opt for the Middle Eastern carriers because of their cost efficient prices. Etihad Airlines also offers the pre-clearance facility at Abu Dhabi International Airport wherein travellers can checkthrough their baggage to their final destination in the US. For business travellers on those airlines, the ban disrupts productivity. With the possibility that Indian business travellers transiting through these airports would have to comply with the new US norms, a section of the business travellers will now begin to prefer flying with the European, South Asian and Indian carriers for hasslefree travel.

Sharat Dhall, COO,

The ban by the US and UK authorities prohibiting in-cabin electronic devices including laptops, tablets, cameras, DVD players, etc., on passenger flights from eight countries including some key Middle Eastern airports, will complicate life for both business and leisure travellers. While business travellers are accustomed to working while travelling, leisure passengers often use their laptops or tablets for entertainment on these long flights. From an India point of view, this announcement should be a gain for carriers like Jet Airways and Air India which typically fly via Europe, as travellers will prefer airlines which allow them to use these gadgets and be connected during their travel.

Indiver Rastogi, President and
Country Head of Corporate Travel,
Thomas Cook (India) Ltd

Indian business travellers are techsavvy and rely on electronic devices to facilitate smooth business transactions, especially while on the move. The ban hence creates a challenge for Indian business travellers given that flights to the US are long haul, and no access to a laptop or an iPad prevents them from working en route while they wait the 14 plus hours prior landing. We anticipate that there could be a temporary lull or pause in this sector, as companies & travellers reconsider & evaluate other options.

The downside may well be offset given the ease in connectivitynetwork that Gulf carriers offer, equally the US pre-clearance facility in Abu Dhabi which is a considerable additional benefit for our Indian travellers.

For our leisure segment, en route stopover holidays in Dubai/Abu Dhabi, etc., are highly popular from both an Indian leisure and b-leisure context and hence the impact may be muted.

Ibrahim Hakki Guntay,
General Manager, Western
Southern India, Turkish Airlines

Due to the most recent declaration that we’ve received from the concerned authorities, as Turkish Airlines we kindly inform our passengers that any electronic or electrical devices larger than a cell phone or smart phone (except medical devices) must not be transported on board in our flights arriving to the US destinations. However, those passengers will be easily able to transport their mentioned devices in the baggage hold area of the aircraft.

Rakshit Desai, Managing Director,
FCM Travel Solutions, India

At FCM Travel Solutions, our priority is to ensure that travellers are aware of the ban and make their choices accordingly. There are ample opportunities for corporate travellers to fly direct or via European and Far East transit hubs, so one need not worry about their business travel plans.

Neelu Singh, CEO & Director,

The restrictions on electronic devices may not really impact travellers travelling for leisure as they may altogether skip the idea of bringing laptops, tablets, cameras and other devices on board. However, business travellers travelling through Gulf may re-route their flights and the traffic will shift to direct flights from India. Few airlines working towards easing this process in compliance with government norms are now allowing passengers to use their devices for their first part of the journey until boarding their flight to the US, which will bring some relief to Indian business travellers.

Ankush Nijhawan, MD,
Nijhawan Group of Companies

It is strange to hear such a ruling when our domestic carriers such as Air India and SpiceJet are trying for permit to get Wi-Fi onboard. UK and US banning electronics on flights from the Middle East airports is certainly going to hamper the business of their airlines and passengers would ultimately prefer other carriers. This is also a big setback especially for corporate travellers as one is ought to use their own devices such as laptops, tablets and other portable electronic devices onboard long-haul flights.

Anil Kalsi, Managing Partner, Ambe

The ban on some electronic items imposed by the two countries will make things difficult for the Middle East carriers. A number of techies and tech-savvy passengers want to use their own devices on such long-haul flights. This decision will act as a deterrent for the passengers who want to work or seek entertainment onboard. I think the countries need to re-look into their decision.

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