Laptop ban on worldwide flights into the USA still being discussed

Ivan Schwartz
May 19, 2017

Aviation officials in the European Union and US are meeting on Wednesday to discuss aviation security, and IATA head Alexandre de Juniac called on officials in an open letter to consider alternatives to a ban, such as methods to detect traces of explosives at airport security checkpoints, better training of staff and use of behavioural detection officers.

De Juniac publicly questioned the effectiveness and reasoning behind the US and United Kingdom bans on devices from the Middle Eastern and North African countries soon after their implementation.

Homeland Security officials say they are concerned a radicalized European citizen who may have traveled to Islamic State territory might try to plant a bomb on a US -bound plane.

They discussed "existing aviation security standards and detection capabilities" as well as security improvements "related to large electronic devices placed in checked baggage", it added.

The proposed measure, as reported earlier this month, would expand an electronics ban now in place on certain US-bound flights from eight majority-Muslim countries. Officials said the ban would only affect flights originating from select airports that do not thoroughly screen carry-on luggage. Deputy Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke was set to meet Wednesday with the top European Union officials in charge of migration and transportation, Dimitris Avramopoulos and Violeta Bulc.

WHAT IS PROPOSED? Laptops and other large electronic devices such as tablets would be banned from the cabins of flights coming to the United States from some countries in Europe.

Discussions over keeping laptops and large electronics out of more US-bound flight cabins ended yesterday without an agreement to widen the ban. IATA proposed more in-depth pre-flight screening rather than forcing passengers to give up their electronics.

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He said: "We don't doubt the security threats that have led to consideration of extending the ban on devices, but we urge the authorities to carefully assess the additional fire risk from storing more PEDs in the hold to ensure we're not solving one problem by creating a worse one".

Nonetheless, airlines have said it is merely a matter of time before the ban is put in place.

The EU authorities were assured by their United States colleagues that Wednesday's meeting signalled the start of an era of better communication under Donald Trump.

Chief among the Europeans' concerns is the fire risk from placing hundreds of devices with lithium-ion batteries in the hold. It said the ban had a direct impact on demand for air travel into the USA and it faced rising costs from introducing complimentary laptop loans to some passengers.

For airlines, costs would increase due to extra handling of cargo hold baggage, departure delays due to increased baggage screening measures, liability for theft or damage to checked devices and a potential reduction in frequencies based on lower yields from business customers.

The Daily Beast recently pointed to a report from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that explained there were 33 fire emergencies previous year caused by electronic devices.

Other reports by GizPress

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