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Trump travel ban cost airline industry $168M in bookings, report says

The Washington Post logo The Washington Post 9/02/2017 Lori Aratani
A member of the flight crew of an Emirates flight from Dubai arrives at Logan International Airport in Boston on Jan. 30, 2017. © REUTERS/Brian Snyder A member of the flight crew of an Emirates flight from Dubai arrives at Logan International Airport in Boston on Jan. 30, 2017.

This post has been updated to note that the travel ban did not come up during President Donald Trump’s Thursday meeting with airline executives.

Officials with the Global Business Travel Association say roughly $185 million in business travel bookings were lost in the week following President Trump’s executive order blocking refugees and people from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S.

Though the travel ban is on hold while a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit deliberates whether to overturn a lower court’s ruling, Mike McCormick, GBTA’s executive director, on Thursday urged the Trump administration to reconsider its merits.

“Upholding the travel ban will clearly cause a rippling effect through the travel industry, ultimately hurting the economy,” McCormick said in a statement.

According data provided by the associatation,  which represents corporate travel managers and travel service professionals, business travel transaction levels increased by 1.2 percent the week prior to the announcement of the executive order, but decreased 2.2 percent the week following the announcement of the ban. The association said that in 2016, 87.3 percent of U.S. business travel was domestic; 12.7 percent was international travel.

An earlier survey of GBTA’s U.S. members found that about three in 10 expected to see a reduction in business travel over the next three months. Roughly the same percentage said the ban could affect travel for the next six months and beyond. A second survey of international members found they were evenly split on whether the ban would have an immediate impact on travel. The surveys, however were conducted before a U.S. District Judge temporarily halted its implementation allowing travelers and refugees to continuing entering the U.S.

The longer the debate continues the more difficult it will be for the industry, McCormick said.

“The cloud of uncertainty could leave a lasting economic impact,” he said. “Large corporations and small businesses alike will suffer. The biggest driver of our economic recovery of the past seven years from the most recent downturn was international outbound travel.”

Trump met with airline executives Thursday where he they discussed the need to upgrade and modernize the nation’s airports and air traffic control system. White House spokesman Sean Spicer said the airline ban was not among the topic discussed.

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