ABU DHABI // An aviation expert has said the ban on large electronic devices in the cabin could be a move of caution in response to a real-time event or threat.
Saj Ahmad, chief analyst for StrategicAero Research in London, said it seems to contradict a US Federal Aviation Administration directive that banned lithium batteries in airplane cargo holds.
That had been put in place after the 2010 crash of a UPS 747 freighter that caught fire because of these batteries on board.
“They must have a reason or have intelligence on a threat which has led to this decision, even though the ban is just for a few months,” he said.
After the UK’s announcement that it would impose a similar ban on flights from six countries – not including the UAE – Mr Ahmad said the UK had clearly liased with the US department of homeland security to formulate the change.
“So something within the intelligence community infers that things are not right, hence these measures are being taken,” he said.
“It is very similar to August 2006 when the ban on liquids came into force, which since then has not been rescinded.
“It is interesting that the countries mentioned by both the US and UK do not mention severe high-risk places like Pakistan, Israel or Bangladesh – but then there is always scope and provision to extend these rules to whichever country is seen as a risk.”
He said he wondered whether the UK would have moved in isolation had the US not changed its policy.
Airlines will encounter delays as check-in staff will have to educate passengers and have them remove and repack such devices, Mr Ahmad said.
“Some passengers will not want delicate electronic items going in the hold for fear of damage and may even choose to abandon their flight plans altogether,” he said.
“The real challenge will be to determine why it does not apply to European, Asian or Latin American carriers. There seems to be a great degree of application inconsistency.
“Given the threat of terrorism in places like France, how does this rule prevent someone boarding a jet in Paris bound for the US?”
“The only reason this law may be seen as safer is because passengers can’t access the devices. Beyond that, I am at a loss to figure this policy out. I think it’s poorly conceived.”