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Security chief mulls international in-flight laptop ban

May 30, 2017 Headline News No Comments Email Email

Travel industry concerns about the possibility of a total laptop ban on international flights gained new force at the weekend following comments by US Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, who hinted that the US might ban laptops on all flights into and out of America. That would include flights by Qantas and Virgin Australia.

Kelly told ‘Fox News Sunday’ the US planned to tighten screening of carry-on items and might ban laptops from aircraft cabins on all flights into and out of the country.

Any such ban could spread rapidly and be adopted by countries like Australia, which is following US progress on airline security closely. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said Australia is “taking into account all of the information and advice we’re receiving internationally and we’re working very closely with our partners.”

Speaking of threats to aviation, Kelly said: “That’s the thing that they are obsessed with, the terrorists, the idea of knocking down an airplane in flight, particularly if it’s a US carrier, particularly if it’s full of US people.”

He spoke of a pending airline security crackdown to combat what he called “a real sophisticated threat”. He said authorities were still following the intelligence “but we’re going to raise the bar generally speaking for aviation much higher than it is now.”

Australia is considering following the US and British idea of banning laptops on flights from some Middle Eastern and African countries or perhaps more widely.

IATA estimates that banning laptops on flights from Europe to the US would cost travellers over USD 1 billion, a figure consisting of USD 655 million in lost productivity, USD 216 million from longer travel times and USD 195 million for renting replacement loan devices on board.

IATA chief executive Alexandre de Juniac says travelling with laptops is “part of everyday life”.

“We have a common interest in safe and secure flights. Yet last month the US and the UK announced that large electronic devices would be banned from passenger cabins on some flights from the Middle East and North Africa.

“There was no consultation with airlines and the measure challenged public confidence with inconsistencies, while the safety concerns over concentrations of lithium batteries in the aircraft hold have not been adequately considered or addressed.”

Written by Peter Needham

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