U.S. agrees not to bring in Europe-wide laptop ban - for now

19 May, 2017, 17:45 | Author: Leticia Walters
  • Ban on laptops and tablets in the cabins of trans Atlantic flights to the United States

A European Commission spokesperson says US and European officials are not expected to make a decision Wednesday when they meet to discuss plans to broaden a USA ban on in-flight laptops and tablets to include planes from Europe.

The proposed expansion of a U.S. ban on laptops and other large consumer electronics in cabins could land more of these devices in the luggage hold, creating the risk of accidental battery fires, officials have said.

The ban was put in place over fears bombs could be concealed in the devices.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA), which represents 265 airlines, wrote to both the US State Department and the European Union on Tuesday to strongly oppose the proposed ban. They shared details about aviation security standards and will discuss the topic further next week.

On Wednesday, in a secure room in Brussels, officials from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the European Union swapped information about threats involving air travel.

While the Mideast moratorium affects 350 USA -bound flights per week, extending it to the 28 European Union states plus Switzerland, Norway and Iceland would impact 390 a day, or more than 2,500 a week, IATA reckons.

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

"We think that it could impose an additional cost of more than $1 billion on passengers", Alexandre de Juniac, head of the International Air Transport Association, said in a televised interview.

The UK then banned airline passengers on direct inbound flights from six Middle Eastern and North African countries from taking electronic gadgets bigger than smartphones - such as laptops and tablets into the cabin.

There was also the question of how safe it would have been to keep a large number of electronics with lithium batteries, which have been known to catch fire, in the cargo area.

"Secretary Kelly has made no decision on expanding the restriction on large electronic devices in aircraft cabins, but the decision is now under consideration", the senior official said. USA officials have begun meeting with European Union representatives in Brussels on May 17, and will continue their meetings in Washington the following week.

Another thing to consider, most airlines will not compensate travelers for lost, stolen, or damaged electronics in checked bags.

With the USA pushing to expand the ban, and other groups suggesting it should be rolled back, we may be at a tipping point.

Instead, he proposes adoption of several "alternative measures [that] would enhance security whilst reducing the impact on airlines and our passengers".

A broader ban would have a significant impact USA and European carriers, which are concerned about the challenges of checking large numbers of devices.

European officials say they received little advance notice of a possible expansion of the ban before news reports about the possibility surfaced last week.

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

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