• Wednesday, May 29, 2024


Laptop ban: EU seeks talks with US over sharing security information

Hazard: Laptop batteries pose a fire risk (Reuters)

By: Rithika Siddhartha

THE European Union has demanded urgent talks with the United States over a possible extension to some European countries of a US ban on airline passengers taking laptops into cabins, saying any security threats faced are common.

The Trump administration is likely to extend the ban already applicable to flights originating from 10 specific airports in the Middle East, north Africa and Turkey because of fears that a concealed bomb could be installed in electronic devices taken onto an aircraft, officials said.

In a letter to John Kelly, secretary of homeland security, and Elaine Chao, US secretary of transportation, the EU executive said it was important that information concerning possible threats involving EU airports be shared.

“We therefore reiterate our willingness to pursue constructive dialogue and we propose that meetings are held as a matter of urgency, both at political and technical level, to jointly assess the risk and review possible common measures,” wrote Violeta Bulc, EU transport commissioner, and Dimitris Avramopoulos, commissioner for migration, home affairs and citizenship.

“It is in our common interest that we work closely together to address developing threats in aviation, in advance of any potential applications of new security measures to air carriers operating from the EU to the US,” the commissioners wrote.

While no decision has yet been taken, any restrictions could hit major European airlines such as British Airways, Lufthansa, Air France-KLM and industry sources have said airlines and airports have already been working on possible contingency measures.

European regulators have warned placing what could be potentially hundreds of devices in the hold on long-haul flights could compromise safety by increasing the risk of fire from poorly deactivated lithium-ion batteries.

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

“We know that in the current geopolitical context, with the kind of terrorist threat we face, an efficient response is really predicated on international cooperation – around the threat assessment and the sharing of intelligence. This is not taking place,” Jankovec said at a CAPA Centre for Aviation industry conference near Dublin.


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