United States to expand airline laptop ban to Europe

by Itunuoluwa Adebo

The Trump administration is likely to expand a ban on laptops on commercial aircraft to include some European countries, but is reviewing how to ensure lithium batteries stored in luggage holds do not explode in midair.

US carriers that are likely to be affected by the expansion of the ban are United Airlines , Delta Air Lines Inc and American Airlines Group. Six US and European officials said they expect the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to make an announcement but declined to say when.

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Two people briefed on the matter said DHS officials are to meet with airline industry officials, Thursday to discuss security issues.  On the same day, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly will give a classified briefing to senators about domestic threats and airline issues are expected to be discussed, a congressional aide briefed on the matter said.

The US announced laptop restrictions on flights originating from 10 airports including in the UAE, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar in March, because of fears that a concealed bomb could be installed in electronic devices taken onto aircraft. Britain hastily followed suit with restrictions on a slightly different set of routes. One European official acknowledged that the expanded ban could affect flights to the United States from Britain.

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The U.S. laptop ban and on other electronic devices larger than cell phones has affected direct flights to the United States by Royal Jordanian Airlines RJAL.AM, Egypt Air, Turkish Airlines, Saudi Arabian Airlines, Kuwait Airways, Royal Air Maroc, Qatar Airways, Emirates and Etihad Airways.

One issue under discussion is how to ensure that lithium batteries in any large collection of devices stored in air plane holds do not explode in midair.


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