THE HOME Secretary has refused to rule out extending the laptop and iPad ban to all flights coming into the UK amid new security fears.
Amber Rudd hinted the in-cabin restrictions – currently limited to six countries – could be extended in the future potentially affecting millions of travellers.
The rules, which came into force yesterday, affects electronics more than 16cm long, 9.3cm wide and 1.5cm deep, and followed a similar move in the US.
It means anyone flying to Britain from Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Tunisia will now have to store the items in the plane’s hold.
The move could theoretically stop a terrorist from physically triggering a bomb concealed in a laptop, as happened on a flight in Somalia last year.
But Ms Rudd said the ban, which was based on intelligence assessments, hinted it could be extended, potentially affecting all holidaymakers and business travellers coming to the UK.
Asked why such devices were not banned from all flights if bombs can be hidden in them, she told BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show: “It’s difficult to say how far this will go, whether we may at some stage arrive at that place.
“But at the moment the Government has made the decision on where to have that ban in place based on intelligence we’ve received.”
However, it was not immediately clear whether the move was introduced in response to a general terror threat or a specific plot from the likes of al Qaida.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said the move was in response to an “evolving threat” from terrorism.
He told the House of Commons the government’s decision was thought necessary to protect the safety of UK passengers, but would not give any more detail.
Mr Grayling said: “We have taken the steps for good reasons.”
The restrictions affect UK airlines British Airways, easyJet, Jet2.com, Monarch, Thomas Cook and Thomson, as well as overseas firms Turkish Airlines, Pegasus Airways, Atlas-Global Airlines, Middle East Airlines, EgyptAir, Royal Jordanian, Tunis Air and Saudia.