Emirates has been forced to amend pilot and cabin crew rosters for services to the US following the States’ travel ban on seven countries with majority Muslim populations, while Etihad said it had offered refunds or re-bookings to affected passengers.
Emirates also said a “small number” of passengers had been affected by the changes to US immigration rules enforced by President Donald Trump on Saturday.
In one of several controversial decisions made since he took office this month, Trump banned nationals of Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia, Syria, Yemen and Libya from entering the US for a four-month period, sparking anger and confusion on Saturday and chaos at airports. Many passengers from these countries were left stranded in airports at the weekend.
A spokesperson for Emirates said in an emailed statement to Arabian Business on Sunday: “The recent change to the US entry requirements for nationals of 7 countries applies to all travellers and flight operations crew. To date, no Emirates crew has been impacted by the change.
“We have made the necessary adjustments to our crewing to comply with the latest requirements. Emirates continues to operate flights to the US as scheduled.
“With regards to entry requirements for travel to/from the USA, Emirates continues to comply with the guidance provided to us by the US Customs and Border Protection.”
The spokesperson added that the number of cabin and flight deck crew from the seven countries is “a very small number” so doesn’t have a “significant” impact on rostering.
The spokesperson said in a separate statement: “A very small number of our passengers travelling were affected by the new US immigration entry requirements implemented by the US Customs and Border Protection on 28 January 2017.
“Where applicable, we are assisting the affected travellers with their flight re-bookings. Emirates is offering rebooking and refund options to passengers holding passports from the seven affected nations, who are booked to travel to/from the US.”
The statement added: “Passengers are responsible for ensuring they have the required documents for their travel. Please see our website for more information.”
An Etihad Airways spokesperson said: “A number of our passengers have been affected and we are continuing to assist them to identify issues before they fly to the US. Where permitted, the airline has offered changes or refunds and rebooked passengers, as per our updated policy.
“Our flight crews were unaffected and we have taken steps to ensure there will be no issues for flights departing over the coming weeks.
“For passengers who are looking for more information, we encourage them to contact the US Consulate or visit the US Customs and Border Protection website. Affected passengers holding tickets to travel on Etihad Airways can contact their booking agent if they require amendments to travel arrangements”
Etihad had posted an initial statement on its website on Saturday, which said: “As a result of the Executive Order signed by the US President on 27 January 2017, US immigration entry requirements for nationals of Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia, Syria, Yemen and Libya have changed.
“Effective immediately, nationals from these countries may only travel to the US if they hold one of the following documents…For more information, please contact a US Consulate or visit the US Customs and Border Protection website.
“Affected passengers holding tickets to travel on Etihad Airways should contact their booking agent if they require amendments to travel arrangements.”
The airline added on Sunday: “We are continuing to work closely with the US Customs and Border Protection agency both here in Abu Dhabi and in the USA on the immigration issues presented over the weekend. Our joint interest is on ensuring that compliance and the wellbeing of all passengers is maintained across our global network.”
Qatar Airways issued an advisory note on Saturday stating that restricted nationals would only be able to travel if they had a US green card or diplomatic visa.