Laptop ban extension could cost industry over $1bn each year, airlines warn

Cornelia Mascio
Mag 19, 2017

USA anti-terrorism officials met for four hours Wednesday in Brussels with their European counterparts who are resisting a proposed expansion of a laptop ban in airline passenger cabins.

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.

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.

European Union officials met Wednesday with a delegation led by Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Elaine Duke to discuss "serious evolving threats to aviation security and approaches to confronting such threats". So far, the ban applies only to certain airports in the Middle East and North Africa, but USA and European authorities are discussing a wider ban that would extend to Europe as well.

The airline industry pushed back, however, saying that such a ban could cost passengers $1.1 billion in lost productivity and longer travel times.

It's also worth noting that transferring electronics into the plane's cargo compartment is also unsafe, since lithium ion batteries are known to occasionally catch fire when they are damaged or short-circuit.

"Beyond the immediate operational impact, we are concerned about the consequences that such a ban would have on demand for trans-Atlantic air travel-and ultimately connectivity between Europe and the U.S.", Jankovec said, according to Travel Weekly.

IATA said that if governments agree that wider curbs are necessary they should consider applying measures to enhance security while avoiding the concentration of devices in holds.

An official said the proposed ban is "off the table" for the time being, according to the AP.

The security implications of extendng the laptop and large PED device cabin ban would have been extremely serious, resulting in the cancellation of hundreds of flights over a prolonged period of weeks.

If an agreement is reached, it will raise questions about the necessity for the USA and United Kingdom bans on electronics flying in from specific countries.

In March, the Department of Homeland Security rushed out a ban on electronic devices in hand luggage on flights from eight countries in North Africa and the Middle East.

A senior Trump administration official told reporters that any plan to expand the restrictions on large electronic devices, such as laptops, in aircraft cabins remained under consideration.

"An expanded electronics ban would disproportionately affect airlines' most profitable customers-business travelers", Harteveldt continues.

This news has been received with huge sighs of relief from both airports and airlines in Europe where the security implications and potential delays associated with substantial security upgrades were a huge concern.

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