Laptop Ban Could Expand to Flights From Europe; ASTA Weighs In

Todd Singleton
May 15, 2017

Earlier this year on March 21, the USA had prohibited travelers from carrying electronic devices bigger than the smartphone into the cabins of flights taking-off from eight countries.

"Commissioner Bulc highlighted the potential safety implications of putting a large number of electronic devices in the aircraft hold", a European Commission spokesperson said.

The move, which forces passengers to put their devices into checked baggage, came amid concerns that jihadist groups were devising bombs disguised as batteries in consumer electronics items.

But according to DHS spokesman David Lapan, no final decisions have been made, though an expansion is "likely".

USA airlines have in recent days been pushing the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to find less disruptive alternatives, according to a source familiar with the discussions.

Olivier Jankovec, director-general of airport trade association ACI Europe, said it was worrying that there appeared to be little coordination between the European Union and the United States."We know that in the current geopolitical context, with the kind of terrorist threat we face, an efficient response is really predicated on worldwide cooperation - around the threat assessment and the sharing of intelligence".

Eben Peck, senior vice president, government and public affairs at the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) has released a statement highlighting the importance of the issue to travel agents and the travel industry.

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But the European market is a much bigger moneymaker for the Delta, American and United, and they face intense competition on flights to Europe from low-priced carriers.

The Department of Homeland Security is considering expanding its laptop ban on more flights - possibly from Europe to the United States - according to multiple reports.

Some experts believe there is also a security risk in putting them in the hold given the danger of their batteries catching fire.

The afternoon meeting included high level executives from Delta Air Lines Inc, United Airlines Inc, American Airlines Group Inc and trade group Airlines for America, the sources said.

The U.S. laptop ban has affected direct flights to the United States by Royal Jordanian Airlines, Egypt Air, Turkish Airlines, Saudi Arabian Airlines, Kuwait Airways, Royal Air Maroc, Qatar Airways, Emirates and Etihad Airways.

A European Commission spokeswoman said a telephone call between top EU officials and their U.S. peers had provided "a very constructive exchange of views". One possible alternative could be additional screening at boarding gates, but "the logistics are very complicated", the source added.

Among the measures suggested, Bloomberg reported, were using explosive-detection swabs and X-ray technology to detect anything that might make passengers' electronic devices a security risk.

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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