Published: Sat, May 20, 2017
Markets | By Noel Gibbs

DHS to brief airline reps, lawmakers as laptop ban expansion is considered

DHS to brief airline reps, lawmakers as laptop ban expansion is considered

One European official said the expanded ban could affect flights to the U.S. from Britain.

In the United States, a Capitol Hill source and a Homeland Security source told CNN on Thursday that it was increasingly likely the ban would be expanded soon. But the aviation and tourism industries are preparing for the worst.

Airlines For America, which said it was "represented" at the meeting, told IBD that it continued to believe that "security and efficiency are not mutually exclusive goals" and would work with DHS and the TSA on making travel smooth and safe. United Airlines shares were trading down 1% in NY.

In a statement to The Daily Beast, The US Department for Homeland Security said: "No final decisions have been made on expanding the restriction on large electronic devices in aircraft cabins; however, it is under consideration".

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That means no laptops in the cabin - a major sticking point for business travelers.

The move to institute the ban now in place came after authorities discovered screening vulnerabilities that could miss explosives planted in laptop computers.

The worry for airlines is that bookings could slump. However, the ban might even affect flights from the United Kingdom to USA according to a European official.

European airlines Lufthansa and Air France-KLM told Bloomberg News that they are already preparing for the new restrictions-and a wider ban may be painful for both European and United States carriers, which are competing for trans-Atlantic business.

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Homeland Security Secretary John Kell briefed members of the US Congress on Thursday and also met with executives at Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and American Airlines. British Airways would also suffer, he said. Under the new administration, arrivals to the US are forecast to drop slightly to 84.2 million for the period.

The broader US tourism industry is also at risk. That is coupled with continued concern about former ISIS fighters from Western Europe returning home and being able to easily travel to the USA on passports from countries that don't require a visa. 40 percent of overseas travelers are from Europe.

Olivier Jankovec, director-general of airport trade association ACI Europe, said it was worrying that there appeared to be little coordination between the European Union and the United States.

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