Saturday, 24 March, 2018

Terrifying details emerge on the reason behind Trump's laptop ban

Melinda Barton | 19 May, 2017, 07:04

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) estimates that should the ban be extended to flights from Europe it could cost passengers over $1 billion a year and create safety risks.

The European Commission (EC) and the United States have pushed back against moves for a wider ban on laptops on aircraft but talks on the subject will continue in Washington next week.

Such a ban would dwarf in size the laptop ban now in place, which was enacted in March and affects around 50 flights a day from 10 cities - mainly in the Middle East.

In a statement, the E.U. said European and US officials talked about security enhancements, including large electronics in checked baggage. "Given the volumes involved, extending the current USA ban to European airports would result in significant disruptions, with implications on various aspects on airport and airline operations", the ACI stated. The timeline for a possible expansion of the ban to Europe or other nations won't be based on the timing of future meetings, according to the USA official.

About 70-80% of travelers bring personal electronic devices with them, according to IATA, and about 40% have a strong need to use them on flights.

In a joint statement after the meeting, the U.S. Department for Homeland Security and the European Commission said they had discussed how to confront "the serious evolving threats to aviation security".

At a four-hour meeting in Brussels, the U.S. agreed not to impose a blanket ban.

The current ban affects 350 flights a week from the Middle East and Africa; a ban on European flights would affect 390 flights a day, according to IATA.

At the Delta area of the Cincinnati airport, a sign warned passengers that beginning Friday on flights returning to the US any electronic devices other than a cellphone would have to be placed in checked baggage.

While the current USA ban affects 350 flights per week, the expansion of the ban to Europe as a whole would affect more than 2,500, estimates IATA.

European Union officials say they have not been briefed on the threat. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security put the rule in place in March for flights coming into the United States from 10 airports in Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.

Would a laptop ban harm your ability to travel between Europe and the US? The intelligence came from a US partner and was considered so sensitive that it was distributed among only a small circle within the USA government and withheld from broader sharing among English-speaking allies that US intelligence agencies do as a matter of course.

Alexandre de Juniac, the director general of the International Air Transport Association, also warned about the concentration of lithium battery-powered devices in a letter to the USA homeland security secretary, John F. Kelly, and European transport commissioner, Violeta Bulc.

"Travelers also may consider getting a cheap, bare-bones laptop specifically for traveling; if travelers are forced to check them, you want to minimize the potential costs of having your laptop tossed onto the baggage carrousel", Katz says. And in this week's letter, IATA proposes a number of measures that could be taken to reduce the threat without resorting to an all-out ban. "More than 350 flights depart Europe for the US each day, according to IATA".