EU, US to meet on airline security

Author

19 May, 2017

It said the ban had a direct impact on demand for air travel into the U.S. and it faced rising costs from introducing complimentary laptop loans to some passengers.

The widening of a United States ban on carrying electronic devices aboard aircraft to include flights from Europe will cost travellers in excess of US$1 billion (S$1.4 billion), said the head of the airline industry's global lobby group. "DHS is very aware as an organization the impact a laptop ban like this will have on the public". That would have affected a massive number of travelers, since about 65 million passengers per year travel between Europe and North America on some 400 daily flights.

"Businesses will cancel trips rather than risk having laptops checked due to risk of confidential information", IATA chief executive officer Alexandre de Juniac said in a letter to U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and his European counterpart Violeta Bulc.

A French official who was briefed about Friday's meeting said the Americans announced they wanted to extend the ban, and the Europeans planned to formulate a response in coming days.

European Union and USA transport and security officials will meet in Brussels on Wednesday to discuss expanding the ban on laptops and tablets to include planes from Europe.

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

While there has been some USA consultation with airlines that has allowed the industry to at least express its concerns - in contrast to the "badly implemented" Mideast ban - more detail needs to be provided, de Juniac said.

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The ban would take after a previous rule that bars travelers from taking laptops, tablets, e-readers, cameras, portable DVD players, travel printers/scanners and other electronics bigger than a smartphone into the passenger cabins. Concerns have also been raised over the potential fire risk from storing large stocks of electronics in checked luggage. The reports say that the terrorists may not have the ability, however, to remotely detonate the explosives, and that security officials say a bomb in the cargo hold of a plane might do less damage than one in the cabin.

A senior Trump administration official told reporters that any plan to expand the restrictions on large electronic devices, such as laptops, in aircraft cabins remained under consideration.

United States authorities banned passengers on direct flights to the USA from 10 airports in 8 countries from bringing laptops, tablets. That's hit Middle East-based carriers.

De Juniac added that the airline industry recognizes "that the U.S., the United Kingdom and other states have compelling reasons to mandate the implementation of countermeasures in response to credible threat intelligence".

"If some flights' options allow certain electronics or provide substitutes", Surry said, "it may sway the traveler's decision about which airline to fly".

The tiny handful of people that still like the idea of going to America are in luck, as USA and European officials have negotiated a way to stop us from being banned from taking anything larger than a smartphone into aeroplane cabins.


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