Airlines group urges alternatives to extending electronics ban

US and European Union officials agreed Wednesday to scrap plans to ban laptops and tablets in cabin baggage on flights from Europe.

USA and European Union (EU) officials met on Wednesday to discuss expansion of a US ban on in-flight laptops on planes from Europe.

In April, we first reported that U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies believed that ISIS and other terrorist organizations had developed new ways to place explosives in laptops and other electronic devices to evade airport security screening methods.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is aware of the operational and economic implications of the possible ban, but "the consequences of an aircraft going down outweigh the other considerations", the official said.

Earlier Thursday, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly met with senators from relevant oversight committees in a secure Capitol Hill facility to deliver a classified briefing to discuss numerous security issues "including threats to aviation", Lapan said.

In a joint-statement released after the meeting, the European Commission said that both sides had exchanged information on the evolving threats to aviation security and would meet again in Washington next week.

IATA estimates that banning electronics on flights from Europe to the United States would cost travelers more than $1 billion.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said that the ban would cost more than $1 billion to implement, when you add up lost productivity and travel delays.

Steve Landells, a safety expert at the British Airline Pilots Association, said there was more of a risk of a fire from lithium batteries in larger devices which are kept in the hold.

Such a ban would dwarf in size the current one, which was put in place in March and affects about 50 flights a day from 10 cities, mostly in the Middle East.

Pace University management professor Andrew Coggins Jr. pointed out that putting laptops in checked bags "exposes them to theft and damage", and inconveniences business travelers who may also use their laptops during long global flights.

But European aviation safety officials are alarmed at the prospect of large numbers of electronic devices powered by lithium batteries being carried in the holds of passenger aircraft. After all, if USA security agencies had credible intelligence indicating a terrorist threat, European Union countries couldn't very well neglect to take appropriate action. As such, passengers must stow any devices larger than a smartphone in their checked luggage.

ACI Europe said that 59 European airports now have direct services to the US with a total of 3,684 weekly flights.

The Daily Beast recently pointed to a report from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that explained there were 33 fire emergencies previous year caused by electronic devices.

A U.S. ban on now ubiquitous laptops could cause havoc, with more than 3,250 flights a week scheduled to leave European Union airports for the United States this summer, according to industry data.



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