No US-EU in-flight laptop ban, for now


U.S. officials have defended the ban as a measure to thwart terrorist attacks, saying that intelligence shows that ISIS is developing smaller bombs that could be concealed in electronic devices. That intelligence was reportedly related to the possibility that Islamic State could use a laptop in a terrorist attack on a commercial airliner.

A meeting between European and US travel officials in Brussels this week ended with no ban, although the US Department of Homeland Security said it is still under consideration.

Aviation officials in the European Union and USA are meeting on Wednesday to discuss aviation security, and IATA head Alexandre de Juniac called on officials in an open letter to consider alternatives to a ban, such as methods to detect traces of explosives at airport security checkpoints, better training of staff and use of behavioural detection officers.

While there's no ban for now, talks between USA and European Union air security officials are continuing.

While there has been some US consultation with airlines that has allowed the industry to at least express its concerns - in contrast to the "badly implemented" Mideast ban - more detail needs to be provided, de Juniac said.

Some experts also say there is a security risk in putting them with checked luggage given the danger of their batteries catching fire.

That intelligence led the Trump administration to ban travelers flying out of 10 airports in eight countries in the Middle East and Africa from carrying electronic devices larger than cell phones aboard planes.

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It was later suggested that the ban might be extended to flights from the United Kingdom and other European countries, with a further report earlier this month suggesting that the idea was 'under active consideration'.

The association says travelers should also consider buying supplemental insurance for their electronic devices, since some plans exclude personal electronics in checked baggage from coverage.

A bomb that blew a hole in the fuselage of a Somali airliner in February 2016, killing one person, is believed to have been built into a laptop computer carried into the passenger cabin.

"IATA fully acknowledges that security remains the primary responsibility of States, and we understand that the USA, the United Kingdom and other States have compelling reasons to mandate the implementation of counter-measures in response to credible threat intelligence", he wrote.

The U.S. official addressed one of the concerns being raised by airlines and aviation safety groups: the potential for raising the risks of fires by placing more volatile lithium-based batteries into the cargo holds of airliners. His remarks came after the DHS sparked concern in Europe last week when it said it would soon decide on extending the ban to European airlines.

"Beyond the immediate operational impact, we are concerned about the consequences that such a ban would have on demand for transatlantic air travel - and ultimately connectivity between Europe and the United States", ACI Europe director Olivier Jankovec added in a statement. USA officials have begun meeting with European Union representatives in Brussels on May 17, and will continue their meetings in Washington the following week.