EU and US move to quell tensions over electronics ban

EU and US officials have moved to settle tensions over the proposed extension of a ban on electronic items in aircraft cabins to include European airports, after growing anxiety in Brussels over a lack of clarity from the US.

European commissioners for transport and home affairs met with Elaine Duke, the US deputy secretary of homeland security, on Wednesday, after Brussels wrote to the Trump administration to complain about a dearth of information from the US over the proposed ban.

A commission spokesperson said both sides exchanged information on “serious evolving threats to aviation security” during the meeting and also discussed “security enhancements” related to the laptop ban.

“The United States and the European Union reaffirmed their commitment to continue working closely together on aviation security generally, including meeting next week in Washington D.C. to further assess shared risks and solutions for protecting airline passengers, whilst ensuring the smooth functioning of global air travel,” the commission said.

Under the proposed ban, passengers would be forbidden from carrying electronic items larger than a mobile phone into a plane cabin as hand luggage. Larger items will have to be checked. The ban is already in force at ten Middle Eastern airports from which planes fly to the US.

The meeting comes amid deep unease in Brussels over a lack of information from the US regarding the proposed extension of the ban. That unease has grown in recent days after reports that Trump shared sensitive information with Russian ambassador Sergey Lavrov.

European diplomats have drawn a sharp contrast between Mr Trump’s exchanges with Mr Lavrov and the failure of the US to brief Brussels on the proposed extension of the laptop ban on transatlantic flights from some European airports. “Europeans are expecting cooperative exchanges with US on this matter and to avoid US unilateral measures,” a European diplomat said.

“It is somewhat surprising though that intel was shared on this issue with Russian minister Lavrov, before being shared with ministers of allied countries,” the diplomat added.

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.

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.

Donald Trump’s electronics ban: What does it means for airline passengers?

Emirates Electronics Ban on flights to the USA.
Emirates Electronics Ban on flights to the USA.

What we know so far about how the electronics ban will affect your journey

Since the ban on large electronic devices in the cabins of flights from six Middle Eastern and North African countries was announced, questions have flooded in to The Independent travel desk. Simon Calder, travel correspondent (and a former security officer at Gatwick airport), tackles the key issues.

Which airports and airlines are affected?

All airports in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Turkey with direct flights to the UK. In the case of Jordan, Lebanon and Tunisia, the only flights are from their capitals — Amman, Beirut and Tunis — to Heathrow. But from Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey there are flights from multiple airports to a range of UK destinations.

Continue reading “Donald Trump’s electronics ban: What does it means for airline passengers?”

What’s behind the electronics ban on airplanes?

In response to potential terror threats, the United States announced new security measures that prevent passengers from carrying electronic devices larger than a cellphone onboard cabins of certain flights to the U.S. The temporary ban affects direct flights to the U.S. from eight countries: Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.).

According to former CIA deputy director and CBS News senior national security contributor Michael Morell, the announcement implies the U.S. has “credible intelligence of a plot to attack an airliner with the larger devices that must now be checked.”

But with 10 airports and nine airlines in the countries being told they have 96 hours (until Saturday) to comply, Morell said on “CBS This Morning” that it doesn’t sound like an “imminent threat.”

“It sounds more like a general plot that we’ve learned about. A plan to do something significant, but not specific,” Morell said.

A U.S. official said the ban tracks back to the laptop bombing of an airliner out of Mogadishu, Somalia last year, which blew a hole in a jet and killed one passenger, believed to be a suicide bomber. Had the bomb gone off at high altitude, it would have been disastrous. Since then there has been an accumulation of intelligence that convinced analysts that al-Qaeda has developed the capability to hide explosives within batteries of the size used in laptops and tablets, reports CBS News correspondent David Martin.
“So, the fact that it’s focused on putting explosives into electronic devices and focused on airlines suggests al-Qaeda. But when you actually look at the countries, it looks more like ISIS, particularly when you put Turkey in there,” Morell said. “So, at this point, I don’t think we know which group is behind this. It could be either one.”

Al Qaeda and its affiliate, al-Nusra Front, is a growing problem, Morell said.

“As we have been focused on ISIS for of the last five years, al Qaeda has rebounded,” he said. “It’s rebounded in Yemen. It is rebounding in Afghanistan. And it is actually a growing problem in Syria on the al-Nusra group.”

The U.K. has also issued a similar electronics ban for direct flights arriving there from Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Turkey — a slightly different list of countries than those named by the U.S.

© 2017 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

US and UK Ban Large Electronic Devices inside Cabins from Middle East and North Africa: What You Need to Know

On Tuesday, both the U.S. and U.K. announced changes to security procedures regarding electronic devices in the cabin of flights originating from certain countries. This is expected to affect numerous passengers.

The US Ban

The U.S. Government has announced that airlines flying non-stop to the United States from certain airports will not allow passengers to carry certain electronic items onboard as carry-ons.

The announcement includes foreign airlines flying to the U.S. from 10 international airports in Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia (2), Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates (2).

Airlines will have until Saturday, March 25 at 0700 GMT to enforce the ban. Cell phones and electronic medical equipment will be exempt but laptops, electronic games, tablets, cameras, and other large electronic devices will only be allowed onboard as checked luggage in the aircraft’s hold.

Airlines affected by the announcement include Egyptair from Cairo, Emirates from Dubai, Etihad from Abu Dhabi, Kuwait Airways from Kuwait, Qatar Airways from Doha, Royal Air Maroc from Casablanca, Royal Jordanian from Amman, Saudia from Jeddah and Riyadh, and Turkish Airlines from Istanbul.

Overall, the U.S. ban is expected to affect approximately 50 flights per day, according to CNNMoney.

Reports suggest that the ban resulted from U.S intelligence discovering a possible terrorist threat that hasn’t been publicly specified.

The ban will be forced under the law code 49 CFR 1542.303 stating the “TSA (Transportation Security Administration) may issue an Information Circular to notify airport operators of security concerns. When TSA determines that additional security measures are necessary to respond to a threat assessment or to a specific threat against civil aviation, TSA issues a Security Directive setting forth mandatory measures.”

Because of this, foreign airlines flying into the United States will be forced to comply or they could face disciplinary actions.

Royal Jordanian Airlines reacted earlier this week via twitter, but then deleted their tweet replacing it with “Further updates will be announced soon regarding #electronicsban.”

The UK Ban

The UK ban was outlined by government officials shortly after the US ban was officially announced. The ban affects direct flights to the UK from Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and Lebanon.

The UK ban also affects more airline including flag carrier British Airways and Easyjet, Jet2, Thomson, Thomas Cook, Monarch, Turkish Airways, Pegasus Airways, Atlas-Global Airlines, Middle East Airlines, Egyptair, Tunis Air, Royal Jordanian, and Saudi Arabian Airlines.

Like counterparts in the United States, UK officials do not cite a specific threat but a need for an increase in security.

Unlike the U.S., the UK government has left it up to the airlines to enforce the ban, not giving a specific date for enforcement.

Analysis

Last year a Daallo Airlines flight from Somalia, made an emergency landing in Mogadishu after a passenger exploded a bomb believed to be hidden in a laptop. The bomb only killed the terrorist, while the aircraft, an Airbus A321 received damage to the fuselage but was able to safely land.

The ban is reportedly in place after concerns have grown on both sides of the Atlantic of a similar attack on a U.S. or UK bound aircraft.

A Metrojet aircraft bound for Russia from Egypt exploded over the Sinai Peninsula, with authorities believing the bomb was placed in an electronic device, however, this was believed to be stored in the hold.

Parents have also been critical of the ban on social media, with many using tablets to entertain their children on long haul flights. Concerns have also been raised about the increase in theft of these high-value devices in checked luggage.

The ban was made in the name of safety according to officials in both the UK and the U.S. They also understand it will be difficult for travelers to adjust but they say it’s necessary to keep commercial travel safe.

– Airlinegeeks