The airline said in a statement emailed to The Verge that the decision came “in response to weakened travel demand” to the United States, and that changes in US government policy related to visas, security vetting, and restrictions on electronic devices in aircraft cabins from certain countries “have had a direct impact on consumer interest and demand for air travel” into the country.
“Until the start of 2017, Emirates’ operations in the US has seen healthy growth and performance, driven by customer demand for our high quality product and our international flight connections,” the statement continued. “However, over the past 3 months, we have seen a significant deterioration in the booking profiles on all our US routes, across all travel segments. Emirates has therefore responded as any profit-oriented enterprise would, and we will redeploy capacity to serve demand on other routes on our global network.”
The changes may be seen by some as a victory for US carriers who have repeatedly complained that Middle Eastern carriers including Emirates, Etihad Airways, and Qatar Airways have received government subsidies from their home countries that provide an unfair competitive advantage.
Emirates says that it is looking to reinstate and grow its US operations “as soon as viable,” and that it continues to provide 101 flight departures each week to 12 different US cities.
Over the next few months, Emirates says it will cut flights to Fort Lauderdale and Orlando from daily service to five per week service, while Los Angeles, Seattle, and Boston will move from twice-daily to once-daily service. Flights to hubs like Chicago and New York remain unaffected.