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Officials Say That Laptop Ban By U.S. Is Likely To Be Expanded To Europe

Officials Say That Laptop Ban By U.S. Is Likely To Be Expanded To Europe
The Trump administration is reviewing how to ensure lithium batteries stored in luggage holds do not explode in midair and is likely to expand a ban on laptops on commercial aircraft to include some European countries.
U.S. carriers such as United Air Lines, and American Airline Group are likely to be significantly impacted by any expansion of the ban. They expect the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to make an announcement but declined to say when, six U.S. and European officials said.
Mainly due to fears that a concealed bomb could be installed in electronic devices taken onto aircraft, the U.S. announced laptop restrictions on flights originating from 10 airports including in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey in March.
And with restrictions on a slightly different set of routes, Britain quickly followed suit. The expanded ban could affect flights to the United States from Britain, one European official acknowledged.
Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly "hasn't made a decision but we continue to evaluate the threat environment and have engaged in discussions with airline representatives and other stakeholders about the threat", DHS spokesman Dave Lapan said.
A congressional aide briefed on the matter said, that domestic threats and airline issues were most likely discussed when Kelly gave a classified briefing on Thursday to senators.
Direct flights to the United State operated by airlines and carriers such as Saudi Arabian Airlines, Kuwait Airways, Royal Air Maroc, Qatar Airways, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Royal Jordanian Airlines, Egypt Air and Turkish Airlines had bene significantly impacted by the U.S. laptop ban.
Officials told the media that ensuing that the lithium batteries in any large collection of devices stored in airplane holds do not explode in midair is a cause of concern and this is one issue that is under discussion.
By increasing the risk of fire from poorly deactivated lithium-ion batteries, security and safety of flights could be compromised by placing what could be potentially hundreds of devices in the hold on long-haul flights, European regulators have warned.
Earlier on Tuesday, there were reports in the media that after the bans upset airline passengers and Middle Eastern carriers, a United Nations agency has begun an effort to craft global guidance for the use of laptops and other portable electronics in passenger aircraft cabins.
After the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and other countries complained their airlines had been unduly penalized by the decision, three sources familiar with the matter reportedly told the media that International Civil Aviation Organization met on Tuesday to debate the issue.
According to several industry sources, since the U.S. announced the first restrictions on larger electronic devices in the cabin, airports and airlines in Europe have already been working on plans for a possible extension of the ban.

Issues that include informing passengers of any new restrictions to keep disruption at airports to a minimum, are among the list of issues that need to be resolved. While a decision is yet to be made, measures such as ensuring U.S. flights depart from a dedicated part of terminals and stopping online check-in for U.S. bound flights, are among ideas being mulled on the operational side.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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