| LONDON, March 27
LONDON, March 27 Qatar Airways' chief executive
said on Monday he did not believe the ban on carrying most
electronics in the cabins of passenger flights to the United
States from eight Muslim majority countries was designed to hurt
The U.S. introduced new security measures on March 25
banning electronics larger than a mobile phone from passenger
cabins on direct flights to the U.S. from 10 airports in the
Middle East, North Africa and Turkey, including Qatar.
The announcement of the restrictions prompted media reports
that the move, enacted by President Donald Trump's
administration, is to protect U.S. airlines by stifling the
growth of the fast-expanding Gulf carriers and Turkish Airlines,
a theory dismissed by U.S. officials and many experts.
Gulf airlines Qatar Airways, Emirates and Etihad Airways
have been battling a lobbying campaign in Washington by U.S.
carriers that accuse them of receiving unfair subsidies, charges
that the Gulf carriers deny.
"I don't think it is fair for me to say it is targeting Gulf
airlines," Qatar Airways Chief Executive Akbar Al Baker told
reporters in London on the sidelines of a Qatar investment
"As far as I am concerned it is a security measure and we
have to comply with that."
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
"At the moment it is too early to say if it will affect our
business," Al Baker said.
Fellow Gulf carriers Emirates and Etihad said last week they
would allow passengers to hand over electronics banned from the
cabin to staff at the boarding gates who would then stow the
Al Baker said the airline has taken steps to mitigate the
impact of the new restrictions on passengers by allowing them to
hand over electronics "at the spot where they go through the
It wasn't immediately clear which process Al Baker was
Passengers traveling to the U.S. from Doha, and other
airports in the region, have to pass through a second security
check immediately prior to boarding.
(Writing by Alexander Cornwell in Dubai; Editing by Hugh