Recently introduced bans on the carriage of certain electronic devices on United States and United Kingdom bound flights is not an acceptable long-term solution to aviation safety, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) says.
IATA has slammed the UK and US governments’ electronics bans, which requires passengers to check in all personal electronic devices larger than a smartphone on nonstop flights from a number of Middle East and North African countries.
“The current measures are not an acceptable long-term solution to whatever threat they are trying to mitigate,” IATA chief executive and director general Alexandre de Juniac said on Tuesday in a speech to the Montreal Council on Foreign Relations.
“Even in the short term it is difficult to understand their effectiveness. And the commercial distortions they create are severe.
“We call on governments to work with the industry to find a way to keep flying secure without separating passengers from their personal electronics.”
The US ban applies to passengers on flights from Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, with laptops, tablets, e-readers, cameras, portable DVD players, electronic game units and travel printers and scanners required to be transported as check-in luggage.
Smartphones and medical devices will be permitted to be carried on board the aircraft.
The UK government quickly followed with a similar ban. However, it only applied to six countries – Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Turkey.
de Juniac criticised the lack of consultation with airlines prior to the ban being implemented.
“With the measures now in place, our passengers and member airlines are asking valid questions,” de Juniac said.
“Why don’t the US and the UK have a common list of airports? How can laptops be secure in the cabin on some flights and not others, including flights departing from the same airport?
“And surely there must be a way to screen electronic equipment effectively? The current situation is not acceptable and will not maintain the all-important confidence of the industry or of travellers. We must find a better way. And Governments must act quickly.”
de Juniac reiterated IATA’s call for better information sharing and coordination on security measures among governments and with the industry.
“While governments have the primary responsibility for security, we share the priority of keeping passengers, crew and aircraft secure,” de Juniac said.
“To do that effectively intelligence is king. And it needs to be shared amongst governments and with the industry. It’s the only way to stop terrorists before they get near an airport, let alone aircraft.”