Belfast Telegraph

Demand for flights surges but any extension to cabin laptop ban may cost airlines £1.2bn

By Ben Woods

Global demand for air travel climbed at its fastest pace for six years in April thanks to cheaper flights and stronger economic growth across the world, an industry body has said.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) found that air passenger demand soared by 10.7% in April, compared to the same month last year, with cheaper air fares driving around half of the growth.

However, IATA warned that the cabin ban on laptops or large portable electronic devices (PEDs) on inbound flights to the US from 10 Middle Eastern and African countries was weighing on passenger traffic.

The UK Government has also enforced the ban on passengers travelling to the UK from six countries in the Middle East and North Africa, with Home Secretary Amber Rudd warning that it could be extended to all flights.

Alexandre de Juniac, chief executive and director general of IATA, said the ban would deliver a $1.4bn (£1.2bn) hit on productivity if it was extended to Europe-to-US flights.

He said: "April showed us that demand for air travel remains at very strong levels. Nevertheless, there are indications that passengers are avoiding routes where the large PED ban is in place. As the US Department of Homeland Security considers expanding the ban, the need to find alternative measures to keep flying secure is critical."

Traffic for Middle East airlines rose by 10.8% in April, but IATA said growth came in slower than the five-year average rate. The UK announced at the end of March that passengers will no longer be able to carry large electronic devices on inbound flights from Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia. UK airlines hit by the measures include British Airways, easyJet, and Monarch.

Belfast Telegraph