Global News

Wider ban on laptops would cost passengers $1 billion, airline group warns

Wider ban on laptops would cost passengers $1 billion, airline group warns

"We've spent billions over the years [on air travel security] and I'm now expected to be on a twelve plus hour flight without my laptop or e-reader?"

The new policy would affect 390 flights daily between the US and Europe, far more than the 350 flights weekly from the Middle East and North Africa subject to the current rule, which the USA announced in March.

The meeting was requested by European Union officials after recent reports suggested U.S. authorities had new information regarding laptop parts being turned into explosives.

That ban has resulted in a significant reduction in travel between those countries and the USA, according to a report by Emirates Airlines. American officials were invited to Brussels next week to discuss the proposed ban, the European Union said. The association proposed more in-depth pre-flight screening, rather than forcing passengers to give up their electronics.

The United States has been mulling increasing the number of airports affected by the ban to possibly include some European ones, prompting the EU to hold an extraordinary meeting of aviation security officials last week.

Extending the curbs, which now apply only to some USA -bound services from the Middle East and North Africa, would obstruct travel and might not be the best way of countering the threat, International Air Transport Association Chief Executive Officer Alexandre de Juniac said in an interview Wednesday.

An EU source described the meeting as vitally important.

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However, EU officials were alarmed over reports that the USA was planning to extend the ban to all flights from Europe and called an urgent meeting with USA officials May 17.

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

The decision to take no action (at present) follows strong lobbying from several quarters, including ACI Europe [see: http://www.trbusiness.com/regional-news/international/aci-warns-that-that-trust-may-be-compromised-on-security/120086] which represents more than 500 airports in 45 European countries, handling 90% of all commercial air traffic - equivalent to plus-1.9bn passengers.

Educating clients and making sure they have the proper travel insurance coverage will also be important, as checking valuable electronics could increase the risk of them being lost or stolen.

In a letter to U.S. Homeland Security chief John Kelly and EU Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc, IATA head Alexandre de Juniac called on governments to consider alternatives to a ban, such as methods to detect traces of explosives at airport security checkpoints, better training of staff and use of behavioral detection officers.

In the IATA's letter, de Juniac said airlines are anxious about increased costs due to the extra baggage handling the new rule would require and the subsequent departure delays.

The U.S. welcomes more than 14.5 million travelers from Europe each year - that's 40% of all overseas visitors to America, according to research firm Euromonitor.


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