Expansion of ban on larger electronics on airlines likely: U.S.

WASHINGTON

U.S. Homeland Security chief John Kelly has not made a final decision on extending a ban on larger electronic devices on airplanes, but the department still believes an expansion is likely, a spokesman said on Tuesday.

Fears that a bomb could be concealed in electronic devices prompted the United States to announce in March it would restrict passengers from bringing devices larger than cellphones on flights originating from 10 airports, including in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey. Britain followed suit with restrictions on a slightly different set of routes.

DHS spokesman David Lapan declined to offer guidance on when a decision on an expansion would be made, but reiterated it was likely the restrictions would be expanded. He also said any expansion could affect international airports in Europe and elsewhere.

European Union and U.S. officials will meet on Wednesday to discuss airline security, including a possible extension of a ban on passengers carrying laptops in aircraft cabins, a European Commission spokesman said.

The meeting was arranged during a phone call between Kelly and EU ministers on Friday. DHS Deputy Secretary Elaine Duke will attend the meeting.

The United States has been considering increasing the number of airports affected by the ban to possibly include some European ones, prompting the EU to hold a meeting of aviation security officials last week.

In Australia, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said on Tuesday the country may ban passengers from bringing laptop computers into the cabin on some international flights.

“We are looking at it very closely, taking into account all the information and advice we are receiving internationally and working very closely with our partners,” Turnbull said, according to a transcript released by his office.

Chief among the Europeans’ concerns is the fire risk from placing hundreds of devices with lithium-ion batteries in luggage holds.

Reuters reported last week that the Trump administration would likely expand a ban on laptops on commercial aircraft to include some European countries but was reviewing how to ensure lithium batteries stored in holds do not explode in midair, citing officials briefed on the matter.

Any expansion of the ban could affect U.S. and European carriers such as United Airlines (UAL.N), Delta Air Lines Inc DAL.N> and American Airlines Group (AAL.O).

In 2016, 30 million people flew to the United States from Europe, according to U.S. Transportation Department data.

(Additional reporting by Julia Edwards Ainsley; Editing by Peter Cooney)

Delta posts sign banning devices from overseas flights

Whoops! Delta posts sign banning devices from overseas flights – CNET

May 12, 2017 12:56 PM PDT

Delta erroneously told passengers Friday that an electronics ban was coming into effect on May 12.

Photo by Delta
Delta mistakenly informed passengers Friday that most electronics were getting banned from international flights.

As spotted on FlyerTalk and by The Points Guy, a sign at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport told passengers that a ban on carrying on devices apart from phones would come into effect on May 12 (Friday), requiring passengers to check anything from laptops to Nintendo Switch consoles on flights entering the United States.

“Effective May 12 passengers will only be permitted to carry a cell phone onboard flights returning to the United States. All other personal electronic devices will be required to be checked,” the sign read.

Delta quickly shot this down, telling CNET that the sign was posted in error and has since been removed. However, this gaffe comes as rumors of such a ban on flights leaving Europe loom.

Delta said that a ban does continue to be in effect on flights entering the US from some Middle East markets.

U.S., EU set meeting on airline security, electronic devices

By David Shepardson and Julia Fioretti | WASHINGTON/BRUSSELS

U.S. and European officials will discuss airline security issues at a meeting in Brussels next week, including possibly expanding the number of airports that ban passengers from carrying electronic devices bigger than cellphones aboard flights, a European Commission spokeswoman said on Friday.

U.S. Homeland Security Department Secretary John Kelly told European ministers by phone Friday the department does not plan to immediately unveil any new measures, the EU said.

U.S. Homeland Security spokesman David Lapan said no final decision had been made on whether to expand the restrictions, and he declined to immediately confirm Kelly’s trip to Brussels.

“The U.S. and the EU are on the same side when it comes to fighting terrorism and protecting our security,” Dimitris Avramopoulos, EU commissioner for migration, home affairs and citizenship, said in a statement.

“Our phone call today proved once again the strong cooperation we have on these matters. I look forward to welcoming Mr Kelly and his experts in Brussels next week to continue our positive talks.”

Fears that a bomb could be concealed in electronic devices prompted the United States to announce in March that it would restrict passengers from bringing laptops onto flights originating from 10 airports, including those in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey. Britain followed suit with restrictions on a slightly different set of routes.

Airlines and several countries affected by the electronics ban have pushed for more consultation with American and British regulators after the abrupt introduction of the restrictions took the industry by surprise.

U.S. and European carriers are concerned about the logistics of checking large numbers of devices. Some airline officials say they would need to hire more staff to impose additional curbs and are worried about how much advance notice they would have.

On Wednesday, Reuters reported that the Trump administration is likely to include some European countries in the in-cabin electronics ban.

Some U.S. and European airlines have been planning for a wider ban, industry officials have told Reuters.

European regulators have warned that placing hundreds of devices in the hold on long-haul flights could also compromise safety by increasing the risk of fire from poorly deactivated lithium-ion batteries.

The EU said in a document approved Thursday and reviewed by Reuters that it did not “have information that would require the adoption of additional security measures, such as the restrictions being considered by the U.S authorities.” The EU document added that placing laptops in luggage holds “presents an increased safety risk to the aircraft, due to the lithium batteries contained in such devices.”

Kelly briefed members of Congress on Thursday and held a meeting with high-level executives of Delta Air Lines (DAL.N), United Airlines (UAL.N), American Airlines Group Inc (AAL.O) and Airlines For America, a trade group. A congressional official said Homeland Security was likely to expand the ban soon but did not say when or to what airports.

The airlines declined to comment, but an airline official said government officials suggested an expansion of the ban was expected soon but it wasn’t certain when.

The trade group said in a statement it appreciated the meeting “to discuss the current state of aviation security.”

The group voted to work with government officials to “minimize the impact on the traveling public by utilizing the risk-based solutions that are the core of our foundation as the safest aviation system in the world.”

In 2016, 30 million people flew to the United States from Europe, according to U.S. Transportation Department data.

According to airports association ACI Europe, summer schedules for 2017 at airports in 28 European Union countries show there are 3,257 flights per week to the United States.

Kelly said last month the ban was likely to expand, given the sophisticated threats in aviation and intelligence findings that would-be attackers were trying to hide explosives in electronic devices.

The predicament is reminiscent of the aviation industry’s response to the 2014 downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17.

At the time, airlines called for greater sharing of information about potential threats to commercial aircraft from conflict zones, even as intelligence agencies expressed reluctance over the risk of revealing sources.

(Reporting by David Shepardson in Washington; Additional reporting by Julia C. Fioretti in Brussels, Victoria Bryan in Berlin and Tim Hepher in Paris; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Cynthia Osterman)

US to ban laptops on all inbound flights from Europe: report

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will reportedly ban laptops on all U.S.-bound flights from Europe amid increasing concern over terrorists trying to hide explosives in consumer electronics.

European security officials told the Daily Beast that the new protocols will be announced Thursday, just ahead of the busy summer travel season.

The DHS has been considering expanding the current ban on large electronics on certain flights from the Middle East and Africa, and officials have been reportedly meeting regularly with U.S. airlines to consider the impacts of such a move.

“No final decisions have been made on expanding the restriction on large electronic devices in aircraft cabins; however, it is under consideration,” a DHS spokesperson said in a statement. “DHS continues to evaluate the threat environment and will make changes when necessary to keep air travelers safe.”
The DHS initially imposed the electronics ban on inbound flights coming from 10 different airports in Jordan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Egypt, Qatar, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates.

Under the policy, passengers are prohibited from carrying electronic devices larger than a cellphone — such as laptops, tablets, cameras and portable DVD players — onto cabins of select flights, but can still stow the items in checked luggage.

The Daily Beast reported that it’s unclear whether the European ban will include tablets, however.

Senior administration officials said the new security protocols come in response to intelligence that indicates terrorist groups are “aggressively pursuing innovative methods” to smuggle explosive devices onto commercial flights.

The U.S. government has long been concerned about terrorists hiding explosives in consumer electronics and trying to build bombs with little or no metal, but new intelligence may have spurred the recent airline action.

The electronics ban has worried travel advocates, who fear it will hurt global business and tourism.

A number of Gulf carriers impacted by the policy have come up with workarounds, such as offering loaner laptops on flights or allowing passengers to check large electronics at the gate just prior to boarding.

European Air Regulator Raises Safety Concerns Over Electronics Ban

Aviation agency says it would prefer devices restricted by U.S. and Britain to be carried in planes’ cabins

By ROBERT WALL

LONDON—Europe’s aviation safety regulator Wednesday effectively issued a warning about the U.S. and British decision to ban electronic devices such as laptops from a plane’s cabin on some flights.

The U.S. and U.K. last month barred passengers on inbound flightsfrom certain Middle Eastern and North African airports from carrying on devices such as tablets, laptops and other larger electronics. Passengers are being instructed to instead leave the devices behind or place them in their checked bags. Officials in Washington and London said they acted to mitigate global threats against aviation from terrorism.

Safety regulators have long worried about the risk to flights from lithium batteries catching fire while on board. Those batteries are generally used in the devices the two countries have restricted. Safety regulators had been urging devices with lithium batteries to be carried in the cabin to allow airline staff to deal with problems, such as overheating or fire, should they arise.

The U.S. targeted flights from 10 airports. The U.K. restrictions apply to flights from six countries.

The European Aviation Safety Agency issued a special safety information bulletin, a notice to airlines about its concerns, reminding carriers that such devices “should preferably be carried in the passenger cabin, on the person or in the carry-on baggage.”

Airlines placing more electronic gadgets in checked luggage or a plane’s cargo hold should take precautions “to mitigate the associated risks, such as fire in the cargo hold,” the Cologne, Germany-based regulator said.

A spokesman for Britain’s Department for Transport said it would stick to its rules. Spare lithium batteries already can’t be carried on board and, the spokesman said, the government didn’t see a risk from batteries contained within devices even if they are transported in checked bags.

British Airways , one of Europe’s biggest airlines affected by the British ban, referred questions to the government.

The EASA said airlines should ensure the devices barred from the cabin aren’t damaged in flight. Damage to lithium batteries is seen as potential cause of fire. The EASA said the devices placed in checked bags should be contained in proper packaging, rigid bags or other protection to minimize the risk of damage. It also said airlines should ensure the devices are fully switched off before being stored and protected against accidental activation.

Qatar Airways CEO: An Electronics Ban Will Just Send Terrorists Elsewhere

Militants would be able to get around a ban on carrying large electronic items into the cabins of planes bound for the United States by traveling from cities not impacted by the ban, Qatar Airways’ chief executive was quoted as saying on Friday.

The U.S. introduced security measures on March 25 banning electronic gadgets larger than a mobile phone from passenger cabins on direct flights to the United States from 10 airports in the Middle East, North Africa, and Turkey, including Qatar.

“Instead of going from the airports where there is a ban, they will go to airports where there is no ban,” Akbar Al Baker told the Irish Times in an interview.

“And there are no bans in certain airports that are very risky – I don’t want to name them – but it is far easier to get on to aeroplanes from those places than it is with us.”

Announcement of the restrictions prompted some media speculation it was aimed at protecting U.S. airlines by stifling the growth of the fast-expanding Gulf carriers and Turkish Airlines, a theory dismissed by U.S. officials and many experts.

Gulf airlines Qatar, Emirates, and Etihad Airways have been battling a lobbying campaign in Washington by U.S. carriers that accuse them of receiving unfair subsidies, charges that the Gulf carriers deny and which Al Baker dismissed.

“We got equity, not taxpayers’ money, and we were given enough equity for us to be independent, which we are today, and we have to show profit,” he was quoted saying.

“We are buying American aeroplanes in big numbers and we are providing jobs. Every single flight we do brings economic benefits to the U.S. So to us, America is first.”

The newspaper also quoted Al Baker as saying Qatar did not plan to increase its 20% stake in British Airways-owner IAG (ICAGY, -1.91%).

Electronics ban leads to further screening

(CNN)The Department of Homeland Security is targeting and isolating certain aircraft for additional screening upon landing in the United States as part of the larger electronics ban the agency announced late last month.

The additional security procedure is happening behind the scenes and was not publicly disclosed by DHS when it announced a ban on electronic devices in the cabin of certain flights.

A source with knowledge of the screening procedures tells CNN that TSA is targeting flights arriving from the same Middle Eastern and North African countries covered in the electronics ban, and screening them with bombs sniffing dogs and equipment.

In some cases, it occurs before the plane even pulls up to the gate. The focus of the additional measure is the checked luggage in the cargo hold of the plane.

Before the new security posture was in place, passengers could retrieve their luggage immediately after deplaning. If they were at their final destination, they would leave the airport with luggage in hand. If they were on a connecting flight they would go through customs and their luggage would be re-screened before getting on their connecting flight. With the new procedures in place, all luggage is being screened before the passenger is reunited with their luggage.

“How and where those procedures are conducted varies according to the airport’s capabilities,” DHS spokesman David Lapan told CNN.

First on CNN: New terrorist laptop bombs may evade airport security, intel sources say

The enhanced screening is happening at 14 US airports. The Department of Homeland Security confirms the domestic US airports affected include: Atlanta (ATL), Boston (BOS), Chicago O’Hare (ORD), Dallas-Ft. Worth (DFW), Ft. Lauderdale (FLL), Houston Intercontinental (IAH), Los Angeles (LAX), Miami (MIA), Orlando (MCO), New York Kennedy (JFK), Philadelphia (PHL), San Francisco (SFO), Seattle-Tacoma (SEA) and Washington Dulles (IAD).

The flights being targeted for additional screening are any flights that originate from the 10 airports located in the 8 Muslim-majority countries impacted by the US electronics ban — Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

“These restrictions are not a reflection of confidence — or lack of confidence — in the airlines and airports involved, but a reaction to the threat environment and our assessment of risks,” Lapan said.

Lapan told reporters Tuesday it is too soon to tell if any of the airports currently on the list would be able to get off the list by improving their security posture. Lapan said the policy will be reviewed constantly because it is based on the threat environment.

“So, as we continue to evaluate the threat environment around air travel we may make other decisions to expand or to pull things back.” Lapan said. “But there is nothing we can say to a particular airport, ‘Here are the things you need to do to get off the list.’ We’re not there.”

Electronics ban at foreign airports could expand

The source with knowledge of TSA procedures told CNN that TSA doesn’t want the bags leaving the cargo hold without a second look.

“TSA is not on the ground to screen bags at those (Middle Eastern and North African) airports,” the source pointed out. “If a passenger is getting on a connecting flight in the domestic system or coming into an airport with luggage, TSA wants assurance those bags are safe.”

Lapan told reporters the electronics ban on certain electronic devices on board direct flights to the US from 10 specific African and Middle Eastern airports – could “possibly” expand. The expansion could include more airports or devices. However, he cautioned, no such measures are imminent.

CNN’s Jon Ostrower and Mary Kay Mallonee contributed to this report.

Etihad Airways says bookings to the US are healthy despite the electronics ban

DUBAI (Reuters) – Etihad Airways’ bookings to the United States are healthy despite last month’s introduction of a ban on most electronics from the cabins of passenger flights to the United States, the Abu Dhabi carrier said on Monday.

On March 25, the U.S. banned electronic devices larger than a mobile phone from passenger cabins on direct flights to the U.S. from 10 airports in the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey, including the United Arab Emirates.

“Bookings to U.S. destinations remain healthy and customer feedback to the initiatives taken by Etihad Airways to provide for their business and entertainment needs has been very positive,” an Etihad spokesman said.

Industry experts warned the ban – prompted by reports that militant groups want to smuggle explosive devices in electronic gadgets – could be damaging to fast-growing Gulf carriers by weakening demand among corporate flyers who use their travel time to complete work on laptops and other devices.

Etihad said last week it would lend approved tablets and offer unlimited wifi to business and first-class passengers traveling on U.S.-bound flights.

In March, fellow Gulf carrier Emirates said booking rates on U.S. flights fell 35 per cent after President Donald Trump’s first travel ban which like the electronics ban only applied to Muslim-majority countries.

The US and UK airline electronics ban was prompted in part by a plot involving a fake iPad

Earlier this week, United States and United Kingdom officials announced new restrictions for airline passengers from eight Middle Eastern countries, forbidding passengers to carry electronics larger than a smartphone into an airplane cabin. According to a security source, the ban was prompted in part by a plot involving explosives hidden in a fake iPad.

The Guardian reports that the bans were “were not the result of a single specific incident but a combination of factors,” and that one of those factors was a plot to use a fake iPad to bring explosives onboard a plane. Further details, such as when the bombing would be carried out, the group behind it, or the nation from which the plan originated, were not divulged.

DETAILS OF THIS PARTICULAR PLOT REMAIN UNDER WRAPS
This delivery method is not unprecedented. In February 2016, a Somali plane was able to land after a passenger detonated a bomb, possibly hidden in a laptop, shortly after takeoff. The Guardian notes that a bomb placed in a passenger cabin can have more of an impact than one placed in the cargo hold, because the would-be bomber could position the explosive against a door or window.

The ban implemented by the US Department of Homeland Security includes laptops, tablets, e-readers, cameras, portable DVD players, and handheld gaming devices, and will require passengers to check those items with their baggage. At the time, DHS explained its rationale after “evaluated intelligence indicates that terrorist groups continue to target commercial aviation, to include smuggling explosive devices in various consumer items.” The US ban affects inbound, direct flights from Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Qatar, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates, while the UK ban affects flights from Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and Turkey.

By the Verge

Turkish Airlines implements electronic device measure

Turkish Airlines Electronics Ban
Turkish Airlines Electronics Ban

Turkish Airlines Saturday have begun to implement regulations forbidding passengers from carrying electronic devices larger than cell phones aboard the plane, as announced on the airline’s website on Friday.
According to an Anadolu Agency reporter present at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport in Istanbul, Turkish Airlines personnel have taken passengers’ electronic devices such as tablets and laptops at the boarding gate and stored them in special containers .
Passengers were asked to leave tablets and laptops to be stored in the baggage hold.
“The electronic devices will be received by an airline officer during the last check-in before boarding the aircraft and will be placed in a special shatterproof luggage after being wrapped in foam covers,” Turkish Airlines CEO Bilal Eksi told Anadolu Agency on Friday.
“We guarantee that passengers’ devices will not be damaged or lost,” Eksi added.
On March 21, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said the restrictions would apply to flights from 10 foreign airports in eight Muslim-majority countries, including Istanbul’s Ataturk International Airport.
The U.K. later issued a similar ban on all flights from airports in Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Tunisia.