DUBAI, March 30 Qatar Airways and Etihad Airways
are lending some passengers laptop computers and tablets to use
on their flights following the new U.S. ban on allowing
passengers' to take their own devices into the cabin on flights
to the United States.
The security measures introduced on March 25 could deal a
blow to the big, fast-growing Gulf airlines, which depend on
business-class flyers stopping over in places like Dubai or Doha
for far-flung destinations.
Qatar Airways said on Thursday complimentary laptops would
be available to business class passengers travelling to the
United States from next week.
Business class passengers will collect the laptops just
prior to boarding, where they will also be able to hand over
their own devices to be stowed in the hold with checked-in
luggage, the Doha-based airline said in a statement.
Similarly, Etihad emailed frequent flyer members on Tuesday
to announce it would lend out tablets and offer unlimited wifi
to busines and first-class passengers travelling on U.S.-bound
Reuters has seen a copy of the email.
Etihad has previously said passengers could hand over
prohibited devices at the gate in order to minimise the
Emirates is also considering loaning devices to passengers
travelling to the United States, President Tim Clark was quoted
as telling Bloomberg on Monday.
The airline was the first to say its passengers could hand
over devices immediately prior to boarding.
The new regulations apply to direct flights to the United
Statesfrom 10 airports in the Middle East, North Africa and
Turkey, including Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
The regulations, prompted by reports that militant groups
want to smuggle explosive devices in electronic gadgets, state
that electronics larger than a mobile phone - including laptops
and tablets - must be stowed with checked baggage on U.S.-bound
Industry experts argue the ban could weaken passenger demand
for the Gulf carriers on U.S. routes, especially among business
travellers who use the long flying time to complete work on
(Reporting by Alexander Cornwell in Dubai, Tom Finn in London
and Stanley Carvalho in Abu Dhabi; Editing by Greg Mahlich)