The United States says it is still considering widening its electronics ban on inbound flights following discussions with European officials.
However, the existing arrangements and number of countries affected would remain in place for now, following talks between US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary John Kelly, European Home Affairs Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos and Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc on Tuesday (US time).
“While a much-discussed expansion of the ban on large electronic devices in the cabin on flights to the United States was not announced today, the Secretary made it clear that the (sic) an expansion is still on the table,” the Department said in a statement on its website on Tuesday (US time).
“Secretary Kelly affirmed he will implement any and all measures necessary to secure commercial aircraft flying to the United States – including prohibiting large electronic devices from the passenger cabin – if the intelligence and threat level warrant it.”
Since March, the US government has required 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 rules do not apply to flights departing the United States.
The United Kingdom followed with a similar ban, albeit with a few different countries and airports.
The industry group representing the world’s airlines, the International Air Transport Association (IATA), has slammed the electronics ban.
“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 at the time.
“Even in the short term it is difficult to understand their effectiveness. And the commercial distortions they create are severe.”
DHS said Kelly, Avramopoulos and Bulc “agreed on the need to raise the bar for aviation security globally, including through a range of potential seen and unseen enhancements”.
There was also agreement to continue to work together to secure global aviation and to maintain clear lines of communication and cooperation.
“Over the last few months DHS has continuously reached out to global aviation partners regarding serious and evolving threats to aviation, and the Department will continue to do so,” the Department said.
The Australian government has said previously it was ready to implement a similar ban if required.
Indeed in April the Commonwealth introduced extra security measures for passengers travelling on nonstop flights from Abu Dhabi, Doha and Dubai to Australia in response to national security advice.
The measures include explosive trace detection screening, similar to what is in place at airports in Australia for domestic flights, as well as “targeted screening of electronic devices”.
However, there was no ban on the carriage of electronic devices on board the aircraft.