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.
Let us entertain you. pic.twitter.com/FKqayqUdQ7
— Emirates Airline (@emirates) March 21, 2017