Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
Markets | By Noel Gibbs

Terrifying details emerge on the reason behind Trump's laptop ban

USA and European Union officials will meet next week in Washington for more talks about risks to air travel after a meeting in Brussels on Wednesday did not, as some industry watchers had expected, extend a cabin ban on large electronics devices.

However, IATA wrote to U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and European Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc on Tuesday expressing "serious concern" regarding the expanded ban, the reports said.

Both US and European Union officials have decided against a ban on laptops and tablets in cabin luggage when flying to the US from Europe.

In March, the Department of Homeland Security rushed out a ban on electronic devices in hand luggage on flights from eight countries in North Africa and the Middle East. There'll be no laptop and tablet ban on flights from Europe to the United States.

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An official who followed the talks said the ban was "off the table" for now. But given how volatile the White House has been in recent months, it's unclear whether it is really being nixed or what other measures might be put in place to protect passengers.

New reports reveal terrifying details about the plot that caused the laptop ban.

Chief among the concerns are whether any new threat prompted the proposal and the relative safety of keeping in the cargo area a large number of electronics with lithium batteries, which have been known to catch fire. Homeland Security officials say they are concerned a radicalized European citizen who may have traveled to Islamic State territory might try to plant a bomb on a USA -bound plane. Current and former USA officials said Trump went well beyond outlining basic threat information in his meeting and Israel has voiced concern about the disclosure.

One issue that had been expected to come up at the meeting was how much advance notice airlines would get to impose additional restrictions, which some airline officials say would require hiring more staff.

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IATA said that if governments agree that wider curbs are necessary they should consider applying measures to enhance security while avoiding the concentration of devices in holds. It says the ban on laptops and tablets on worldwide flights into the US would cause a downturn in trans-Atlantic air travel and cost travelers more than a billion dollars in lost productivity.

The US official noted terrorist groups were "aggressively pursuing innovative methods to undertake their attacks, including smuggling explosive devices in various consumer items" onto commercial flights.

ACI Europe Director General Olivier Jankovec also pointed at the economic impact the existing laptop ban has had on Middle Eastern airlines.

"IATA fully acknowledges that security remains the primary responsibility of States, and we understand that the USA, the United Kingdom and other States have compelling reasons to mandate the implementation of counter-measures in response to credible threat intelligence", he wrote.

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