MIAMI – Secretary John Kelly met today with the European Home Affairs Commissioner – Dimitris Avramopoulos, and the Transport Commissioner – Victoria Bulc, after the consideration from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to expand the ban on laptops and other large electronics in airline cabins from Europe.
The spokesman, David Lapan, confirmed to Reuters that Kelly said no expansion was announced but that it “is still on the table.” Lapan also said both sides agreed about the needs for improvement of “aviation security globally, including through a range of potential seen and unseen enhancements.”
After various meetings with airlines and European officials, the DHS declined to offer a timetable for making a decision and instead said it would be made by Kelly on a review of threats. One major issue for the carriers, that has been under consideration, is the potential safety implications of storing large numbers of laptop batteries in the cargo holds of airliners.
“Secretary Kelly affirmed he will implement any and all measures necessary to secure commercial aircraft flying to the United States – including prohibiting large electronic devices from the passenger cabin – if the intelligence and threat level warrant it,” said Lapan – even though he concluded by making no announcement on any expansion being planned this week.
Airline and government officials said there have been discussions about potential alternatives to an expansion of the laptop ban, including enhanced screening, but that no decisions have been made.
Also, Secretary John Kelly said, in a weekend interview on “Fox News Sunday”, that he “might” ban laptops from airplane cabins on all international flights, both into and out of the United States.
In March, the United States announced laptop restrictions on flights originating from 10 airports, including in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey, because of fears that a concealed bomb could be installed in electronic devices taken onto aircraft. Two months later, aviation analyst, Alex Macheras, said the United States may extend its ban on large electronics in the cabin to all flights between Europe and the U.S.
The U.S. restrictions cover about 350 flights a week. Extending the ban to all European airports would affect nearly 400 flights a day and cover 30 million travelers.