Australia prepared to follow US, UK lead with electronics ban if needed

Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester says Australia is ready, if necessary, to implement a similar ban on electronic devices larger than a smartphone being taken on board commercial flights from certain Middle East and North African countries that has been implemented by the United Kingdom and United States.

However, the government was for now maintaining its current security arrangements relating to the carriage of personal electronic devices.

On Tuesday, the US government announced it would require passengers on nonstop flights from 10 airports in eight countries to the US to check in all personal electronic devices larger than a smartphone, such as laptops, tablets, e-readers, cameras, portable DVD players, electronic game units and travel printers and scanners.

Smartphones and medical devices will be permitted to be carried on board the aircraft.

The UK government quickly followed with a similar ban.

Chester said the government stood ready to make changes to the carriage of personal electronic devices if required.

“The Australian Government is in contact with industry and our international partners, and will continue to monitor security developments and adjust our security settings if needed,” Chester said in a statement on Wednesday.

“Australia has a comprehensive and strong transport security system in place to prevent acts of terrorism which we continuously review to ensure it addresses contemporary threats.

The US Department of Homeland Security said the ban applied to passengers on flights from Queen Alia International Airport, Amman (Jordan), Cairo International Airport (Egypt), Ataturk International Airport, Istanbul, (Turkey), King Abdul-Aziz International Airport Jeddah (Saudi Arabia), King Khalid International Airport, Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), Kuwait International Airport, Kuwait, Mohammed V Airport, Casablanca (Morocco), Hamad International Airport, Doha, Qatar, as well as Dubai International Airport and Abu Dhabi International Airport in the United Arab Emirates.

The US Department of Homeland Security said “more stringent” security measures would be in place “until the threat changes”.

“Evaluated intelligence indicates that terrorist groups continue to target commercial aviation and are aggressively pursuing innovative methods to undertake their attacks, to include smuggling explosive devices in various consumer items,” the Department said on its website.

“Based on this information, Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly and Transportation Security Administration Acting Administrator Huban Gowadia have determined it is necessary to enhance security procedures for passengers at certain last point of departure airports to the United States.”

It said passengers connecting through any of the 10 airports affected should check in all large personal electronic devices at their originating airport.

The British government quickly followed the US lead, bringing in the same security requirements for flights from six countries – Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Turkey.

“In conjunction with our international partners and the aviation industry, the UK government keeps aviation security under constant review,” British Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling said in a statement to the House of Commons.

“We will not hesitate to put in place measures we believe are necessary, effective and proportionate.”

Canada and France have said they were also considering a similar electronics ban.

Emirates, which operates to 11 US cities from its Dubai hub, took news of the ban in its stride on Twitter.

Comments

  1. David says

    How long will it be before such items are banned from ALL countries, and on planes altogether? I can see the day coming when checked luggage will go on dedicated flights, and hand luggage will be banned all together, in the nae of air safety. Rules created by Governments. A sad day for us all.

  2. Chris Grealy says

    Such a great idea – fill the hold with Li-ion batteries, tossed around by baggage handlers, compressed, bent, and shortly to be on fire, with no method of extinguishing them. Absolutely fantastic idea from the MAGA crowd.

  3. Brett says

    Sadly it will be a case of when not if an aircraft is diverted due to a Li-ion fire in the cargo hold as a direct result of this security measure. Lets just hope the flight isn’t traversing the middle of an Ocean at the time.

  4. Holden says

    For all those complainers – just be rest assured that security agencies only do these things in reaction to credible threats, and there are a huge number of threats that the general public are shielded from (partly to preserve intelligence pathways that would be compromised if the threat was publicised).

    The real blame here should lie with the bloody terrorists. Gone are the days where passengers could share the thrills of flight with the crew in the cockpit, gone are the carefree days of being able view aircraft close up in the open air as an avid aviation watcher, and gone are many of the pleasures and mystique of international flight.

    Combined these ill-winds with the continued erosion of lifestyle for aircrew and cabin crew at the hands of belligerent corporatism (easier to rail against staff costs than attack issues like rampant fuel costs), and it’s little wonder the industry finds it hard to recruit the next generation of staff.

    It’s a crying shame. I still love aviation but the mystique has certainly been killed by terrorists and corporatism in the past 30 years.

  5. David says

    You can still send a message from a smart phone to a hold stored laptop to blow up the plane.

  6. Ben says

    We don’t have airline service from any of the countries in this ban other than the US ban on the ME3 countries. Which as has been mentioned elsewhere is probably more about the US legacies v the ME3 carriers than security. Screening at DXB is one of the most stringent I’ve been through outside of a friendly manhandling from the TSA. I’d have to assume AUH and DOH are around the same.

    Whilst I acknowledge that we need security for aviation, at some point you acknowledge that you can’t cover all risks and the experience of the 99.9999999% of us that use airlines to travel from A-B instead of for a nefarious purpose comes into play. If we make security so tight that we have to spend hours in security, sans devices (one day will it be clothes too?) then who really is winning this ‘war’?

  7. Ian Morris says

    Another pointless knee jerk reaction by the US Government… what is to stop the laptops getting on board through the other 99.99999999999999% of places? The risk might be there but it is so miniscule in terms of the number of flights and the number of passengers carried everyday around the world.

  8. Adrian Paddington says

    I go along with Ben on this, it is probably about the US legacies v the ME3 carriers.

    American-based airlines do not fly from these hubs.

    Can the cockpit crew still have their laptops?