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UK follows US in ‘laptop ban’

IATA calls for strengthening of airline security

The UK is due to announce a ban on large electronic devices on UK-bound flights from certain countries.

A spokesperson for the prime minister confirmed the government has agreed additional security measures for direct flights to UK from Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia.

They told Sky News that passengers are not allowed in cabin with phones, laptops or tablets larger than 16cm in length, 9.3cm width and 1.5cm in depth.

UK airlines affected by the ban include: British Airways, Easyjet, Jet2, Monarch, Thomas Cook and Thomson.

The eight overseas airlines subject to the ban are: Turkish Airlines, Pegasus Airways, Atlas-Global Airlines, Middle East Airlines, Egyptair, Royal Jordanian, Tunis Air and Saudia.

A UK government spokesperson said: "Decisions to make changes to our aviation security regime are never taken lightly.

"We will not hesitate to act in order to maintain the safety of the travelling public and we will work closely with our international partners to minimise any disruption these new measures may cause."

'Terrorist threat'

It follows a similar move announced earlier on Tuesday from the US, which banned passengers from putting any electronic item larger than a mobile phone in their hand luggage on flights from eight Muslim majority countries.

The US ruling will reportedly affect nine airlines operating out of 10 cities, including Doha, Abu Dhabi and Istanbul, and will prohibit items including laptops, tablets, Kindles and cameras. Phones are exempt from the ruling.

Department for Homeland Security said the government is “concerned” over terrorists targeting commercial aviation.

The ban affects services from cities including Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Doha, Istanbul and Cairo and comes into force on March 25 until October 14 2017. Around 50 flights a day operate from the Middle East, Turkey and North Africa to the US.

Gulf airlines Qatar, Emirates and Etihad as well as Turkish Airlines could be the worst hit by the ban as they rely on transfer passengers who could need access to devices during the stopover. Travellers could now opt to travel via European hubs.

In a statement Emirates confirmed the ruling by the Transport Security Administration (TSA).

“Electronic devices larger than a cell phone/smart phone, excluding medical devices, cannot be carried in the cabin of the aircraft,” a spokesperson said. “It is applicable to all US-bound passengers from Dubai International Airport, whether originating or transiting through. Emirates requests that all passengers travelling to the US pack all electronic devices larger than a cell phone/smart phone in their checked-in baggage.”

The Department for Homeland Security said: "The US government is concerned about terrorists' ongoing interest in targeting commercial aviation, including transportation hubs over the past two years, as evidenced by the 2015 airliner downing in Egypt; the 2016 attempted airliner downing in Somalia; and the 2016 armed attacks against airports in Brussels and Istanbul," the DHS said.

"Evaluated intelligence indicates that terrorist groups continue to target commercial aviation, to include smuggling explosive devices in various consumer items."

US carriers are not affected by the ban.

Airports affected by the ban:

  • Hamad International Airport, Doha, Qatar
  • Dubai International Airport, UAE
  • Abu Dhabi International Airport, UAE
  • Ataturk International Airport, Istanbul, Turkey
  • Queen Alia International Airport, Amman, Jordan
  • Cairo International Airport, Egypt
  • King Abdul Aziz International Airport, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
  • King Khalid International Airport, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
  • Mohammed V Airport, Casablanca, Morocco
  • Kuwait International Airport, Kuwait

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