European Airports Council warns against expansion of laptop ban

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.

Talks on a proposed US ban on laptops and tablets in flights from Europe ended Wednesday with no ban - and a promise of more talks and better intelligence sharing. The current measure prohibits travelers from bringing any devices that are "larger than a smartphone" as carry-on items. After all, if USA security agencies had credible intelligence indicating a terrorist threat, European Union countries couldn't very well neglect to take appropriate action.

They also shared details about their aviation security standards and detection capabilities, and agreed to meet again in Washington next week "to further assess shared risks and solutions for protecting airline passengers, whilst ensuring the smooth functioning of global air travel", according to a joint statement.

International Air Transport Association (IATA) chief executive officer Alexandre de Juniac said in an interview with Bloomberg on Wednesday that extending the curbs would obstruct travel and might not be the best way of countering the threat.

Some experts also say there is a security risk in putting them with checked luggage given the danger of their batteries catching fire. But the airline industry has pushed back, warning that expanding the electronics ban to Europe would result in higher costs and new security threats.

In the discussions, European Union officials reportedly pressed to get more information about the ban, especially in light of the fact that President Donald Trump has admitted he shared details about the intelligence that spawned the ban during a meeting with Russian diplomats.

Another oddity of the prohibition is that Emirates passengers to the U.S. who travel on one of the flights that touches down en route in Milan or Athens are not affected by the ban.

The DHS, working with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, has sent carriers safety guidance for how to handle the influx of devices into the cargo areas, the U.S. official said. Checked baggage is screened more heavily than carry-ons and a bomb in the cargo hold would have less impact than one in the cabin, according to United States of America officials.

Southwest hasn't been affected by the ban or discussions about its expansion to flights from Europe because it has no operations across the Atlantic Ocean.

ACI Europe Director General Olivier Jankovec also pointed at the economic impact the existing laptop ban has had on Middle Eastern airlines.

The five airports with the largest number of USA weekly flights are London Heathrow, Paris Charles de Gaulle, Frankfurt, Amsterdam Schiphol and Dublin, ACI Europe said. The Federal Aviation Administration has recommended that U.S. airlines ban such batteries from cargo holds, as has the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) at the United Nations.

Emirates, the Middle East's largest airline, cited the ban as one of the reasons for an 80% drop in profits past year.

United States and European Union officials met yesterday in Brussels to discuss plans to widen the ban.

  • Zachary Reyes