US Considering Flight Laptop Ban at 71 Overseas Airports
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – The US government is considering banning laptops from the cabins of inbound flights from 71 airports overseas, a dramatic increase from the 10 airports where the security protocol currently applies.
US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary John Kelly told a House panel on Wednesday that the administration is currently weighing whether to expand the ban to include dozens of airports in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, according to Reuters.
“We are looking right now at an additional 71 airports," Kelly said during a Homeland Security Committee hearing. "We're also looking at ways that we think we can mitigate the threat" without expanding the ban.
The DHS announced a new policy in March prohibiting large electronics from being carried onto select US-bound flights from the Middle East and Africa, though the items can still be stowed in checked luggage.
The administration has been considering an expansion of the security measure, which officials say is needed because terrorists are pursuing innovative methods to smuggle bombs onto commercial flights.
But European officials have raised concern that storing more lithium ion battery-powered devices in the cargo hold could pose its own safety risks if they catch fire, while travel advocates have warned that the electronics ban could have a devastating impact on the US and global economy.
Stakeholders have been urging the administration during high-level talks over the past few weeks to consider alternative options to the laptop ban.
The report added that Kelly’s deputy will attend a conference in Malta next week "to present what we think are the minimum increased security standards ... and present those to people to say if you meet these standards we will not ban large electronics."