US authorities are to introduce new “enhanced” security checks on air travel to counter the threat of terrorist attacks but will not extend the laptop ban – for now.
The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said it planned to “to raise the baseline for aviation security across the globe by implementing enhanced security measures”.
These new checks will apply to 2,100 daily US-bound flights across 280 airports in 105 countries and will affect 180 airlines.
But DHS has decided not to extend the current ban on larger electronic devices, including laptops, which applies for flights to the US from 10 Middle Eastern airports.
This US laptop ban has been in place since March and could be lifted if the 10 affected airports meet the new security requirements - the UK also has a similar ban on flights from six countries.
DHS said the enhanced security checks would be “both seen and unseen” and will include the following:
• Enhancing overall passenger screening
• Conducting heightened screening of personal electronic devices
• Increasing security protocols around aircraft and in passenger areas
• Deploying advanced technology, expanding canine screening, and establishing additional pre-clearance locations
These measures are due to implemented “in phases” over the next few weeks and months, while other checks could also be implemented “over time”.
“Those stakeholders who fail to adopt these requirements with certain timeframes run the risk of additional security restrictions being imposed,” warned DHS.
Airlines are being given 120 days to comply with the new secuirty regime or face a ban on all passenger electronic devices being taken onboard.
John Kelly, secretary of Homeland Security, said: “Terrorists want to bring down aircraft to instil fear, disrupt our economies, and undermine our way of life. And it works - which is why they still see aviation as a crown jewel target.
“The threat has not diminished. In fact, I am concerned that we are seeing renewed interest on the part of terrorist groups to go after the aviation sector - from bombing aircraft to attacking airports on the ground, as we saw in Brussels and Istanbul.
“That is why in March I made the decision to ban electronic devices larger than a cell phone from the passenger cabins of US-bound commercial flights from 10 airports in the Middle East and North Africa.
“I made that call based on evaluated intelligence and real concerns we had about terrorist plotting. Make no mistake: our enemies are constantly working to find new methods for disguising explosives, recruiting insiders and hijacking aircraft.”