EU, US hold ‘robust’ talks on possible airline laptop ban

Aviation sources say that Europe will seek to placate American concerns by promising closer scrutiny of laptops at the gate of US-bound flights, including routine electronic-trace detection. The White House has since considered widening the scope of the ban to not only include flights originating from the United Kingdom but the entirety of Europe. The E.U. and USA delegation, led by Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke, did not talk about implementing the electronics ban to flights from European countries, according to the Guardian.

However, EU officials were alarmed over reports that the USA was planning to extend the ban to all flights from Europe and called an urgent meeting with United States officials May 17.

An official said the proposed ban is “off the table” for the time being, according to the AP.

Officials with the European Union have been trying to pry details from USA officials who have been pushing for the ban as a means of reducing the threat that such devices can be used by terrorists.

The International Air Transport Association – a trade group representing 265 airlines worldwide – estimates the cost of a ban in Europe would exceed $1 billion in lost productivity.

Any expansion of the ban could affect U.S. and European carriers such as United Airlines, Delta Air Lines and American Airlines Group.

The talks come in light of United States intelligence indicating terrorist plots to use laptops to disguise explosives on commercial aircraft.

“Secretary Kelly make his decisions based on the intelligence and the threat and if that points to a decision being made in the next several days or next several weeks, he’s going to do that”.

President Donald Trump admitted this week that he shared intelligence with Russian diplomats about threats to commercial aviation.

Officials from both sides of the pond believe the threat is real enough that remarkable measures are being taken to ensure passenger safety.

De Juniac also said that storing electronics in a plane’s cargo area could increase the risk of lithium-ion batteries catching fire, as reported by Reuters.

While the European Union delegation were not given a guarantee that a laptop ban would not be imposed, there is greater confidence in Brussels that it is unlikely to happen in the near future. “It’s a disaster”, said Vijay Aggarwal, CEO of xCelor, who travels extensively between Europe and the U.S.

The policy would “require the deployment of a very large number of additional security staff” to handle additional screening checks for each flight and to load PEDs into the hold of aircraft among other changes needed to accommodate the ban, staff that would need to be hired and trained.

A senior Trump administration official told reporters that any plan to expand the restrictions on large electronic devices, such as laptops, in aircraft cabins remained under consideration.

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