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19 May 2017, 04:25 | Mandy Simon
Laptop ban on flights to US 'likely' to expand official
Extending a carry-on laptop ban, imposed in March, would cost passengers $1.1 billion a year in lost productivity and travel time, said the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which represents 265 airlines.
The ban would affect trans-Atlantic routes that carry as many as 65 million people a year on over 400 daily flights, including business travelers who use laptops to work in-flight. A long flight is a great time to sleep to be sure, but so many use it for important matters that they account for as part of their respective business.
The ban took on new political overtones this week after The Washington Post reported that Trump disclosed classified information to Russia's top diplomat about a terror plot to sneak bombs into laptops.
The number of flights from Europe to the U.S. is running up to 350 a day with over 60 million passengers.
The internationally-respected pilots union said: "Lithium battery fires, unless caught early can spread quickly and therefore official ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) advice is that devices should be kept in the cabin so that any potential fires can be spotted and extinguished before they enter a state known as "thermal runaway" - at which point they are nearly impossible to extinguish".
There is also the question of the relative safety of keeping a large number of electronics with lithium batteries, which have been known to catch fire, in the cargo area.
A proposed Trump administration ban on passengers from Europe taking laptops and tablets into cabins on flights to America appears to have been dropped after a meeting between European Union and United States officials.
But the airline industry has pushed back, warning that expanding the electronics ban to Europe would result in higher costs and new security threats. An official who followed the talks said the ban was "off the table" for now.
The ban was sparked by a government belief that terrorist groups had put renewed efforts into making bombs that could be hidden in devices, like tablets and laptops, making these harder to detect.
Curbs on carrying electronic devices aboard aircraft on some services from the Middle East and North Africa already affect 350 US-bound flights per week. The possible ban in Europe would resemble the rule in the Middle East.
A proposal to ban laptops in cabin on flights between Europe and North America isn't even official, but critics already say it would cost travellers $1 billion USA a year and be a nightmare to implement. European Union officials say they have not been briefed on the threat.
However, officials said that other measures are still being considered, though they failed to elaborate on what these measures might be.
De Juniac added that the airline industry recognizes "that the USA, the United Kingdom and other states have compelling reasons to mandate the implementation of countermeasures in response to credible threat intelligence".
"These policies do impact business travelers' ability to stay connected, as well as cause conflicts with existing risk management procedures", said Michael McCormick, executive director and COO of the GBTA.
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