United States authorities lift electronics ban for three more airports

Travellers from Dubai, Doha and Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport to the United States will again be able to take all their electronic devices in carryon luggage after the United States Department of Homeland Security lifted restrictions that had been in place since March.

The end of the electronics ban for Emirates Airline, Qatar Airways and Turkish Airlines, followed a similar easing of conditions for Etihad Airways a week ago.

The US Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) and the affected airlines confirmed the ban on electronics had been lifted on their respective Twitter pages.

Qatar Airways said in a statement the lifting of the electronics ban came after US officials inspected the security measures in place at Hamad International Airport in Doha.

Emirates said in a statement heightened security measures and protocols have been implemented at Dubai International Airport and thanked its customers for their patience and understanding while the ban was in place.

Meanwhile, Turkish Airlines said on Twitter laptops, tablets, cameras and other electronic devices were able to be “passengers to the United States again”.

Passengers from 10 airports in eight countries across the Middle East and North Africa travelling to the United States were forced to checkin all electronic devices larger than a phone in March 2017, following regulations imposed by the US.

However, the US flagged the potential end of the electronics ban, which received heavy criticism from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), in late June when it announced new security measures for all international flights to the country.

The US Department of Homland Security said at the time the new security measures to apply to all inbound flights to the US regardless of point of origin included enhancing overall passenger screening; conducting heightened screening of personal electronic devices; increasing security protocols around aircraft and in passenger areas; and deploying advanced technology, expanding canine screening, and establishing additional preclearance locations.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said this move followed talks with stakeholders across the industry.

“It is time to raise the global baseline of aviation security,” Kelly said in statement on the DHS website.

“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 traveling public safe and make it harder for terrorists to succeed.

“With this announcement, we send a clear message that inaction is not an option.”

Emirates has said previously the electronics ban led to a significant deterioration in forward bookings on its flights to the United States.

In April, Emirates said it would halve services from Dubai to Boston, Los Angeles and Seattle from double daily to daily, while flights to Orlando and Fort Lauderdale were slated to be cut from daily to five times a week. Some routes will also be downgauged to smaller aircraft.

The Emirates group, which covers both the flagship airline and other subsidiary businesses, reported a 70 per cent slump in profit for the 12 months to March 31 2017 to 2.46 billion Emirati dirham (A$908 million), from 8.18 billion dirham (A$3.02 billion) in the prior corresponding period.

Profit from the Emirates airline operation fell 82.5 per cent to 1.25 billion dirham (A$461 million), from 7.13 billion dirham (A$2.63 billion) previously. Airline revenue was flat for the year, while load factors fell 1.4 percentage points to 75.1 per cent.

Emirates has also deferred some aircraft deliveries in what is a tricky time for Gulf carriers more broadly given the slowdown in the region amid difficult trading conditions and overcapacity.