Wednesday, 14 November, 2018

US, EU in urgent talks on expanding laptop ban on flights

US, EU in urgent talks on expanding laptop ban on flights US, EU in urgent talks on expanding laptop ban on flights
Orlando Vargas | 17 May, 2017, 14:14

Top European officials are set to talk with the Head of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Friday, as the EU seeks information from the USA about a possible ban on larger electronic devices on flights from Europe.

In March, the US banned laptops on USA -bound flights from 10 airports in North Africa and the Middle East based on concerns that terrorists could convert laptops into bombs.

Delta, United and American Airlines, plus trade group Airlines for America, are reported to have held talks with U.S. security officials in Washington DC on Thursday (May 11).

The move, which forces passengers to put their devices into checked baggage, came amid concerns that jihadist groups were devising bombs disguised as batteries in consumer electronics items.

DHS spokesman Dave Lapan said 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".

European Commission spokeswoman Anna-Kaisa Itkonen said the EU had no new information about a specific security concern.

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U.S. officials have said the decision in March to bar laptops and tablets from the cabins of some global flights, mostly from the Mideast, was bot based on any specific threat but on longstanding concerns about extremists targeting jetliners.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security organized a telephone conference to take place Friday afternoon with "key European partners" - France, Britain, Germany, Spain and Italy.

A French official who was briefed about Friday's meeting said the Americans announced they wanted to extend the ban, and the Europeans planned to formulate a response in coming days.

The U.S.is a major destination for Europe-originated flights, with more than 10 million travelers flying there each year from destinations across the continent. The official said the primary questions revolved around when and how - and not whether - the ban would be imposed.

The official spoke only on condition of anonymity to discuss the plan.

In March, Washington banned passengers on direct flights to the United States from 10 airports in eight countries from carrying on board laptop computers, tablets and other electronic devices larger than cellphones.

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