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May 23, 2017

Air Travel: BTC on Laptop Ban Impact; Icelandair’s Transatlantic Internet

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A new survey on the impact of the laptop ban and more lead this week’s air travel news affecting the meetings and events industry. 

BTC: 79 Percent Would Reduce U.S., Europe Travel Due to Laptop Ban

79 percent of travel managers indicate that travel to the United States, to Europe and through European hubs would be reduced should an expanded laptop ban be instituted, according to a new report from the Business Travel Coalition (BTC). Half said that travel demand would fall more than 25 percent.

The results are from a four-day survey by the BTC of 112 corporate, university and government travel managers regarding a potential U.S.-imposed inflight electronics ban from European airports. Travel managers from the UK, Spain, U.S., Germany, Ireland, Finland, Belgium and France participated in the survey.

“The survey results should illuminate the economic risk of such a ban on electronics that are larger than a cell phone and encourage the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to collaborate with travel industry stakeholders to identify, test and deploy risk mitigation solutions short of a ban on laptops and tablets,” said BTC Founder Kevin Mitchell in a written release.

The survey also found that 60 percent of respondents’ travel policies prohibit laptops from being checked. 16.7 percent of those respondents’ organizations indicated that they would consider changing their policy should an expanded ban go into effect, while 25 percent said no and 58.3 percent said that they were unsure.

83 percent said that the biggest impact to productivity would be if travelers were unable to have access to their laptops during a multi-day business trip. 12.5 percent were concerned about lost productivity during a flight.

85 percent of those organizations that prohibit checking laptops said that they have not considered or implemented workaround solutions for their travelers who would potentially lose access to their laptops during a business trip due to an expanded ban, while 15 percent said that they have considered different solutions.

Should the ban go into effect, 62.4 percent said that they would be very likely (41.6%) or somewhat likely (20.8%) to seek alternative airlines or routes to reach their recommendations. 50 percent said that they would be very likely (25%) or somewhat likely (25%) to switch back to more time-efficient transit over Gulf hubs.

In the event of an expanded ban, 66.6 said that they would be very or somewhat likely to make more use of video conferencing and other technologies.

“If the restriction makes travelers safe and reduces the likelihood of a catastrophic terrorist event we will support any inconvenience,” one survey respondent wrote.

“The ban would be dramatic for both business and leisure travelers, and be considered a very heavily hostile action against travelers,” another wrote. “We expect bankruptcies in travel organizations due to this implementation.”

“Why not simply utilize bomb-sniffing dogs, or allow laptops for known travelers who have been vetted for Global Entry, Nexus or TSA PreCheck?” asked another.

The laptop ban currently applies to 10 countries in the Middle East and North Africa. Last week’s meeting between U.S. and European Union (EU) security officials ended with multiple conflicting reports on the ban’s future. Some media outlets said plans to expand the ban were “off the table” for now, while others indicated an expansion was imminent, according to our partner publication, Travel Agent. Security officials are due for another meeting in Washington, DC, this week.

The survey was conducted online from May 19 to 22.

Icelandair Partners With ViaSat Inc. for Transatlantic High-Speed Internet

Icelandair has announced that it will bring fast and powerful in-flight connectivity and Internet streaming service to transatlantic flights through a new partnership with global broadband services and technology company ViaSat Inc

To deliver Internet service at 35,000 feet, Icelandair will tap into ViaSat-2, billed as the most powerful, highest capacity satellite communications system at launch, and will leverage ViaSat's latest generation (Gen-2) in-flight Internet system. 

Icelandair will integrate ViaSat's in-flight Internet system across its fleet of 16 Boeing 737MAX aircraft through post-delivery modifications. ViaSat plans to deliver continuous, reliable high-speed connectivity from Icelandair's 18 North American gateways across the Atlantic Ocean to Iceland and more than 25 destinations in Europe. By using ViaSat's Gen-2 equipment, which is optimized to take full advantage of the highly-anticipated massive amounts of capacity offered by the ViaSat-2 satellite, Icelandair can offer passengers fast and high quality in-flight Internet connections, as well as keep pace with the growing broadband demands of the fully connected aircraft.   

Delta to Launch More Nonstop Service to St. Kitts in December

In flight news, Delta Air Lines has announced it will be adding more nonstop service to St. Kitts, including additional service from New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and a second weekly non-stop flight from Atlanta that will operate throughout the peak winter 2017/2018 season, complementing Delta's existing Saturday nonstop service from Atlanta (ATL).

Commencing December 23, the new JFK nonstop flights will operate weekly on Saturdays to/from Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport (SKB) on St. Kitts. Flights depart from JFK at 8:35 a.m. and arrive on St. Kitts at 1:45 p.m. while return flights depart St. Kitts at 2:50 p.m. and arrive back in New York at 6:35 p.m.

From Dec. 23 through January 6, 2018 on Wednesdays and from January 9, 2018 through March 27, 2018 on Tuesdays, Delta will operate a second weekly non-stop flight from ATL to/from St. Kitts. Flights depart Atlanta at 10 a.m. and arrive in St. Kitts by 2:58 p.m. Return flights leave St. Kitts at 4:10 p.m. and arrive back in Atlanta by 7:35 p.m.

Delta will utilize a Boeing 757-200 aircraft with 20 first class, 27 Delta Comfort+ and  152 economy class seats for the JFK flights. For the Atlanta flights on Wednesdays, Delta will use a Boeing 757-200 aircraft with 20 business class, 27 Delta Comfort+ and 152 economy class seats. 

For the Atlanta flights on Tuesday, Delta will operate a Boeing 737-800 aircraft with 16 business class, 34 Delta Comfort+ and 110 economy class seats. 

Etihad Airways Announces Abu Dhabi-Paris Route on Largest Passenger Jet

Finally, Etihad Airways has announced the year-round deployment of its Airbus A380 aircraft on the Abu Dhabi to Paris route. The world's largest passenger jet - equipped with a three-bedroom suite - will operate from July 1 on one of its twice-daily services from the UAE's capital city to Paris. The additional capacity will provide business and leisure travelers from France more opportunities to visit Abu Dhabi, the airline said. 

Paris becomes the airline's latest A380 long-haul destination following London, Sydney, New York and Melbourne. With the 496-seat aircraft upgrade from a 328-seat Boeing 777, Etihad Airways will offer an all-A380 daily service from Paris to both Melbourne and Sydney via the airline's Abu Dhabi home base. 

The additional capacity will also support the connecting traffic to and from cities across Asia and Australia from Abu Dhabi including, Brisbane, Perth, Bangkok, Chengdu, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Manila, Shanghai, Seychelles, Chennai, Delhi and Mumbai. 

Flight EY31 has a scheduled departure time from Abu Dhabi at 2:15 A.M. which arrives at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport at 7.50 A.M. local time.  The return flight, EY32 takes off from the Paris at 10:40 A.M. and arrives in Abu Dhabi at 7.30 P.M. 

Keep visiting www.internationalmeetingsreview.com for the latest air travel news, trends and updates affecting the meetings and events industry. 

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