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Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

No laptop ban extension on Europe-US flights - for now


The airline industry is urging regulators in US and Europe to reconsider a plan to expand the current ban on some electronic devices on USA -bound flights.

In a letter to U.S. Homeland Security chief John Kelly and EU Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc, IATA head Alexandre de Juniac called on governments 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 behavioral detection officers. US and European officials will discuss Wednesday, May 17, 2017, plans to broaden a USA ban on in-flight laptops and tablets to include planes from Europe.

A broader ban on carry-on laptops, tablets, and other electronic devices on all flights from Europe would affect 390 flights a day, or more than 2,500 a week, IATA said.

"At the meeting, both sides exchanged information on the serious evolving threats to aviation security and approaches to confronting such threats". They shared details about aviation security standards and will discuss the topic further next week.

Top US and European Union officials traded intelligence Wednesday (17 May) on what they called "serious evolving threats" to airline security as Washington mulls banning carry-on computers on flights from Europe.

The US restrictions, introduced in March, apply to devices "larger than a smartphone" from the cabins of flights from Turkey, Morocco, Jordan, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

The prospect has reportedly alarmed European Union officials, who want to know more about any new threats and the disruption such a ban would create.

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. Moreover, almost half of all business travelers said in a recent survey they want to stay connected in flight so they can get work done.

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 other is British Airways.

The association expects that an expansion of the ban to flights from Europe will have "significantly higher negative impacts than the existing measures".

Transatlantic flights are among the most lucrative for airlines, because they can sell premium seats to business travelers.

There were subsequent fears that forcing everyone to stow laptops and other large electronic devices could create a larger fire risk in aircraft holds.

While IATA's recommendations were intended specifically to forestall any expansion of the current ban, they are also clearly intended as an alternative to the existing USA and United Kingdom restrictions. As we pointed out this made no sense, even if there were credible reports of terrorists turning laptops into bombs (as the rumor goes).

As many as 65 million people a year travel between Europe and North America on over 400 daily flights.

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