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23/03/2017 - 19:06hs

Dubai Duty Free expecting losses from US restrictions

A ban on electronic devices on board flights from Dubai bound for the United States put in place by Donald Trump is expected to cause sales to drop by as much as USD 2 million, the DDF’s CEO estimates.

São Paulo – The restrictions on the use of electronics in flights from some Arab countries into the United States will affect sales at the Dubai Duty Free (DDF), the retail facility at the Dubai International Airport (DXB). DDF CEO Ramesh Cidambi estimates that the duty free will see revenue dwindle by USD 2 million this year alone. The information was released on the Arabian Business website, which quoted an interview from Cidambi to Reuters.

The CEO’s estimate is based on sales of electronics to passengers on US-bound flights last year, cell phones and accessories not included – these items are not included in the US government ban in flights from the Middle East.

Earlier this week, US president Donald Trump ruled that devices including laptop computers, photo cameras and tablets – each and every device bigger than a cell phone – will be prohibited in flights from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, and Turkey. Passengers bound for United States airports will need to ship in these items separately as of next Friday (24).

The Trump administration justified the move as a counter-terrorist measure, under claims that the items can conceal bombs.

The prohibition also applies to the items sold in DXB free shops, which are managed by DDF. Last year, DDF grossed USD 1.85 billion from sales, its CEO said.

Emirates, the only carrier with clearance to fly direct from DXB into the US, took action to try and minimize the effects of the ban for its passengers. The airport in Dubai is a major hub for US-bound tourists from the Middle East, Asia and Oceania.

Emirates News Agency (WAM) reported that Emirates will offer a new, free service to allow passengers to use their devices up until they board their flights. At that point, they will need to hand the devices over to security teams at the gate, which will store the items into boxes to be carried in the aircraft’s cargo area, to be collected upon arrival.

“Our new complimentary service enables passengers, particularly those flying for business, to have the flexibility to use their devices until the last possible moment”, Emirates president Tim Clark told WAM. Once on board they can still stay connected on their mobile phones. Our historical data shows that on Emirates’ US flights, 90% of passengers using our onboard mobile and Wi-Fi connectivity services do so via their smart phones. Only 6% connect via their laptops, and 4% via their tablets,” he explained.

In the first few days after the ban becomes effective, the airline will increase its staff at the Dubai airport to clarify questions and assist passengers.

*Translated by Gabriel Pomerancblum

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