Intel sharing at heart of US, Europe talks on laptop ban

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has expressed alarm at the possibility of an extension to passengers departing European airports of the us ban on large personal electronic devices in the cabins of airliners as officials from the Department of Homeland Security met with European Commission officials on Wednesday.

Both sides exchanged information on the serious evolving threats to aviation security and approaches to confronting such threats.

The White House has defended President Trump's decision to discuss an ISIS terror threat related to the use of laptops on aircraft with Russian officials.

The Trump administration's measure barring airline passengers from bringing larger electronic devices into flight cabins could cost passengers an extra $1.1 billion or more if applied to flights coming to the USA from Europe, the head of the International Air Transport Association said.

The probable expansion of the ban, which was imposed in March on flights to the United States from 10 mostly Middle Eastern airports, has raised concerns in Europe that it would disrupt travel and have little security payoff.

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.

A ban on laptops and other electronics in the cabin of flights from Europe to America will likely be further expanded to include additional countries, a U.S. official said Tuesday.

The White House raised hackles in March with a ban on the use of laptops on flights between the US and 10 Middle Eastern and North African airports, citing nebulous safety concerns that the computers could be used to hide explosive devices. Eastern to include additional details about the meetings between European and US officials.

Washington was determined to close that loophole, and has already briefed the three big USA carriers - American, Delta and United - about the imposition of a ban.

Expanding the ban could cost $1.1 billion a year in lost productivity, travel time and "passenger well-being", Alexandre de Juniac, director general and CEO of the group, which represents 265 airlines, wrote in a letter to Bulc and U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly.

"Eventually I'd hope we could work to a solution that doesn't ban laptops in the cabin", Kelly said.

Steve Landells, a safety expert at the British Airline Pilots Association, said there was more of a risk of a fire from lithium batteries in larger devices which are kept in the hold.

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

"Considering how much easier or enjoyable such items can make our journeys, and how fragile and expensive they can be, it's easy to see why the restrictions have sparked so much debate and caution among passengers", Clarke-Cowell said. An unnamed official told the Associated Press that the proposal is "off the table" for the time being.

The US has already introduced such a ban on flights from Cairo; Istanbul; Kuwait City; Doha, Qatar; Casablanca, Morocco; Amman, Jordan; Riyadh and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; as well as Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.

De Juniac publicly questioned the effectiveness and reasoning behind the US and United Kingdom bans on devices from the Middle Eastern and North African countries soon after their implementation. "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?"

  • Zachary Reyes