Canadian airlines could benefit from a laptop ban

Thursday, May 25th, 2017

The Vancouver Sun

A potential U.S. ban on large personal electronics on flights from Europe could have unintended benefits for Canadian airlines — if Ottawa isn’t compelled to follow suit, aviation experts say.

In March, the U.S. announced an electronics restriction on devices larger than a smartphone on inbound flights from 10 airports, including ones in Turkey, Egypt and United Arab Emirates.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security told reporters in Washington on Wednesday that it hadn’t reached a decision on whether to extend the ban to Europe, but that U.S. and European officials held meetings to discuss the possibility this week.

While airline industry groups have raised concerns about the potential expansion of the ban, it could provide a boost for Canadian airlines should the federal government choose not to follow suit when it comes to on electronic restrictions on flights.

“This could actually be a very good — but unintended — boost to business for Canadian long-haul airlines,” said Henry Harteveldt, a travel industry analyst and president of the Atmosphere Research Group.

“If this ban is implemented in Europe, expect Air Canada and WestJet to raise their fares from Europe via Canadian gateway (cities) to the United States. Business travellers would flock to those airlines … if they can keep their electronics. You will see these travellers forego their frequent flyer miles, if it means they can be more productive.”

Delphine Denis, press secretary for Transport Minister Marc Garneau, said Canada is not considering any new measures at this time and electronic devices such as laptops are still permitted on flights coming in and out of Canada.

Aviation consultant Robert Kokonis says while a ban elsewhere could potentially see more passengers turn to Canadian airlines, it is more likely that Garneau would be compelled to follow the U.S. lead in implementing a ban “sooner rather than later.”

“At the end of the day, the minister’s top priority is safety of the Canadian transportation system, in this case airports,” he said.

“If there is enough credible intelligence between the various agencies that have known about this threat … I feel Canada would likely feel compelled to follow suit.”

© 2017 Financial Post

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