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Threat of total laptop bans on US flights recedes

June 30, 2017 Headline News No Comments Email Email

US-bound airline passengers who like to use laptops in flight can now breathe easy – they can continue to do so for the foreseeable future, when flying from Australia, at least.

The threat of a blanket ban on in-flight use of large portable electronic devices like laptops is receding, despite earlier hints by the Trump administration such a ban might be on the way. Instead, the US will insist on tighter security at international airports where passengers board. As security at Australian airports is already tight, Australian passengers flying to the US from Australian cities are unlikely to be inconvenienced.

Stricter measures at originating airports may include swabbing more devices for traces of explosives, using bomb-sniffing dogs and stepping up security screening for airport and airline employees.

Airlines have four months to show they comply, and US Homeland Security secretary John Kelly said those who don’t might be banned from flying to the US altogether.

“Make no mistake: our enemies are constantly working to find new methods for disguising explosives, recruiting insiders, and hijacking aircraft,” Kelly said.

“We cannot play international whack-a-mole with each new threat. Instead, we must put in place new measures across the board to keep the travelling public safe and make it harder for terrorists to succeed.”

The new requirements will be implemented in stages at more than 280 airports in 105 countries, affecting 180 airlines that offer direct flights to the US. The US currently receives about 2000 international flights a day bearing 325,000 passengers.

The US sees flights and passengers from the Middle East and North Africa as the main problem. In March, the US banned passengers flying to the US from 10 airports in that region from carrying any electronic devices larger than mobile phones in the cabin.

The moves followed intelligence suggesting that terrorists are working to develop a bomb which can fit into a working laptop.

Written by Peter Needham

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