More international carriers win reprieve from laptop ban – Washington Post

Several international airlines and airports affected by a U.S. ban on laptops and other large electronic devices have moved quickly to put new security measures in place so their customers can once again bring devices on board when they fly.

Officials with the Department of Homeland Security confirmed Monday that six carriers and six international airports will no longer have to abide by the ban that was put into place amid concerns that terrorists could use the devices to conceal explosives.

“We commend the six airlines and airports [that have enhanced security and had restrictions lifted] for working swiftly to implement these additional measures,” said David Lapan, a spokesman for DHS. “Their efforts are a model for both foreign and domestic airlines looking to adopt the new measures and are indicative that airlines committed to passenger safety can quickly raise the security bar.”

The six airlines are Emirates Air, Etihad Airways, Kuwait Airways, Royal Jordanian, Qatar Airways and Turkish Airways. The international airports are Ataturk International (Turkey), Abu Dhabi International (United Arab Emirates), Dubai International (United Arab Emirates), Hamad International (Qatar), Kuwait International (Kuwait) and Queen Alia International (Jordan).

In addition, the BBC reported that Saudi Arabian carrier Saudia had indicated it expected to be released from the ban on July 19. Reuters reported that Royal Air Maroc also said it believes the restrictions will be lifted for its flights out of Casablanca by the same date.

“The United States is approaching these enhancements in phases,” Lapan added. “Some, like the measures being implemented by these airlines, were required immediately, while others will be implemented over time in coordination with our international partners.”

The original ban affected 10 airports in eight mainly Muslim countries. The ban has not yet been lifted at airports in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Morocco.

DHS Secretary John Kelly had been weighing a plan to expand the laptop ban to all international flights into and out of the United States. But after consulting with international partners and industry representatives, Kelly concluded that the security goals could be met by “raising the bar” overall at airports.

The goal, he said, was to balance passenger safety with concerns about intelligence reports that terrorists are working to develop ways to use electronic devices as weapons. Senior homeland security officials said the hope is that the new requirements — which could mean additional screening of laptops and more bomb sniffing canines at airports worldwide — will not mean longer waits for travelers or significantly increase cost for airlines and airports.

Kelly said the goal was to do away with the piecemeal approach to airport security.

“We cannot play international whack-a-mole with each new threat,” he said.

Under Kelly’s new plan, the ban could be lifted for airlines and airports that put the new measures in place. However, those carriers and airports that declined to follow the new security directives could be banned from allowing passengers to carry any large electronic devices aboard their flights — or even lose their clearance to operate flights to the United States, homeland security officials said.

Senior DHS officials said U.S. officials worked closely with their international counterparts and industry representatives to craft the new protocols. The goal was to balance passenger safety with concerns about terrorists using electronic devices as weapons. The hope is that the new requirements will not mean longer waits for travelers or significantly increase cost for airlines and airports.

Lapan emphasized that DHS continues to work with its partners: “Over the course of the next several weeks and months, DHS/TSA will work with aviation stakeholders to ensure these enhanced security measures are fully implemented.”

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