As President Donald Trump delays the new travel ban to savour the glowing reviews of his congress address for a while, he might consider holding it back longer in view of the setback faced by air travel after the last order, which is being called the “Trump Slump”.
Air travel to the US from the seven Muslim-majority nations listed in the ban order dropped by a whopping 80% between January 28 — the day after he signed the executive order — and February 4, according to data from ForwardKeys, the travel intelligence analyst that monitors travel patterns by analysing 16 million flight reservation transactions a day.
Air travel to the US from other parts of the world also dropped by 6.5% over the same eight-day period in 2016. For Asia Pacific, which would include India, the fall was deeper at 14%, second largest after the Middle East (other than the countries on the travel ban list) that led with 37.5%.
“Our data makes it clear that Donald Trump’s travel ban had a deterrent impact on flight bookings to the USA that spread well beyond the seven countries named in the ban,” Olivier Jager, CEO, ForwardKeys, told HT in a statement.
His company’s report in February titled “Travel to the USA suffers 6.5% Trump slump” started the “Trump Slump” label, which is now cited widely in the industry as the ban aftermath.
The report said: “Whilst travel bookings on any given day can be significantly up or down compared to the same day a year before, variability over a few consecutive days is typically much less. The eight-day period coinciding with the travel ban is the first time since before the presidential election in early November that there has been a consistently long run of negative variations compared with the equivalent period the year before. For reference, inbound bookings to the USA for the whole of the past year were down.”
Trump’s ban, which came into effect on January 27 when he signed an executive order, caused international alarm immediately as visa-holders from these countries were detained and arrested on arrival in the US or were turned away without warning from airports that they came to board flights bound for the United States.
The order was challenged immediately by civil rights activists and lawyers and a New York court agreed, staying proceedings against two immigrants from Iraq, a country the US attacked (without justifiable cause), occupied, governed and abandoned. Multiple lawsuits followed. A federal court in Seattle, Washington, issued a countrywide stay soon after. The Trump administration appealed against it, and lost.
The president and his aides said they were resolved to press ahead and that they will not give up and will return with a new order, saying they felt extreme vetting was necessary to keep out “bad dudes”, as Trump has said in multiple tweets and remarks.
The appeals court, in this instance one of the most liberal of them all, ruled in favour of the Washington court and against the administration. Trump has raved and ranted against the judges, as he is known to, but he has not challenged the ruling in the Supreme Court as he should have if he felt genuinely aggrieved.
The administration chose to abandon the order altogether recognising the futility of pursuing it. It now plans to replace it with a new one that proposes to, according to leaks, to drop Iraq from the list of the countries on the ban order; and allow all existing visa-holders from these countries into the US.
Trump could and might want to drop it altogether, if he wants.