U.S. and E.U. Confer on Possible Laptop Ban on Trans-Atlantic Flights

by admin May 18, 2017 at 3:55 am

The official added that the homeland security secretary, John F. Kelly, could impose the measure in the next several days or weeks.

A senior European Union official, also speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the talks, confirmed that the Americans shared information about what was behind the reports about the proposed restrictions.

In March, the United States and Britain barred passengers traveling through airports in a number of Muslim-majority countries from carrying laptop computers, tablets and other devices larger than cellphones aboard direct inbound flights.

The larger items were to be stowed with checked luggage.

Officials said the restrictions were put in place after intelligence showed that the Islamic State was developing a bomb that could be hidden in portable electronic devices.

In Europe, however, there is a deep wariness that extending the restrictions there would create vast complications for airports and airlines on one of the busiest corridors for international air travel.

Last year, 31 million passengers departed European airports on flights to the United States, and 3.5 million of those passengers connected from flights that originated outside of Europe, according to the International Air Transport Association, an industry group representing 265 airlines.

Some companies restrict their employees from checking laptop computers as stowed luggage to prevent sensitive business information being lost or stolen.

And some aviation experts say that storing so many electronics in an airplane’s hold could heighten the risk of lithium-ion batteries catching fire.

On Tuesday, Alexandre de Juniac, the director general of the International Air Transport Association, advised European and American officials to “avoid the concentration of lithium battery-powered devices in the cargo hold of passenger aircraft.”

In a letter to Mr. Kelly and Violeta Bulc, the European commissioner for transportation, Mr. de Juniac said the current American prohibition of large electronic devices on flights from countries in the Middle East and North Africa affected about 50 flights each day; extending the ban to Europe would affect a further 390 flights per day and cost passengers $1.1 billion each year, mostly because of longer travel times and the inability of passengers to work during flights.

Mr. de Juniac suggested there were alternatives to expanding the laptop ban, including the greater use of detection systems to test whether people had handled explosives; asking passengers to turn on their devices to detect possible tampering; using more trained dogs to sniff out explosives on passengers; and using programs to detect low-risk travelers.

According to a joint statement released after the Brussels meeting, the Americans and the Europeans plan to meet next week in Washington to discuss technical issues.

Continue reading the main story

Source link

more news from the blog

Add Comment