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Spectre of total laptop ban refuses to vanish

May 19, 2017 Headline News No Comments Email Email

Airlines are bracing themselves for the daunting possibility of a total laptop ban on transatlantic flights – or even on all international flights – following discussions between European and US negotiators over a new terror threat.

Such a ban would cause major travel disruption and be massively expensive.

Officials from the US Department of Homeland Security and the European Union have just ended talks in Brussels about threats to air travel, including the development of a laptop bomb. US President Donald Trump is said to have discussed the same thing with Russian diplomats at the White House last week.

Britain and the US have banned laptops on inbound flights from certain Middle Eastern and African countries and reports suggest the US is pushing for a similar ban on transatlantic flights from Europe.

Laptop. Now banned in cabins on some airlines and routes

So far, there’s no laptop ban on transatlantic flights, but after the talks in Brussels, news reports carried around the world said airlines considered “it is merely a matter of time before the ban is put in place”.

The US and EU negotiators are due 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,” a joint statement said.

Australia is following progress closely.

“We are taking into account all of the information and advice we’re receiving internationally and we’re working very closely with our partners,” Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said.

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 AUD 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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