Saturday / May 18.
HomeFT SelectUS curbs laptops and tablets on flights from Mideast

US curbs laptops and tablets on flights from Mideast

Airline passengers travelling from eight Middle Eastern nations, including Jordan and Egypt, will be barred from carrying large electronic devices into the main cabin under new regulations from the Trump administration.

The rules, which come into effect on Tuesday, also apply to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, according to a US official. Passengers from the eight countries will have to check laptop computers and other large devices, such as tablets, into the hold on all flights bound for airports in the US.

But the restrictions will not apply to flights leaving the US for the same countries, according to the official, who requested anonymity.

The move marks the latest attempt by the US to tighten security after President Donald Trump vowed during the presidential race to do more to tackle terrorism.

It comes one week after his administration issued a revised travel ban that temporarily bars citizens of seven largely Muslim countries from entering the US. The revised order, like the first, has been blocked by courts, preventing implementation for the time being.

The regulations will almost certainly be criticised by passengers, particularly business travellers who use their laptops and tablets to work on during flights. Under the rules, passengers will still be able to bring their mobile phones into the main aircraft cabin.

The biggest impact will be felt by Emirates, the huge Dubai-based airline that operates 119 weekly flights between Dubai and a range of US destinations, including New York, Boston, Los Angeles and Seattle. The airline also carries passengers from Asia to the US via Dubai, meaning the impact will be more broadly felt. It will also hit the operations of Etihad, another UAE-based airline, which operates Airbus A380 superjumbos twice a day between Abu Dhabi and New York and serves a series of other US operations.

Royal Jordanian Airlines earlier on Monday warned its passengers about the new Department of Homeland Security regulations regarding large electronic devices. But the airline later removed a notice from its social media accounts, following suggestions that it had prematurely released information.

While some outlets have reported that the ban applies to 13 countries, the US official said only eight nations were on the list.

It was unclear why the Trump administration chose the eight countries. It includes Saudi Arabia, which many critics said should have been included in the immigration order because of the role of Saudi nationals in the September 11, 2001 attacks on the US.

The Department of Homeland Security declined to comment on the new rules, but was expected to release guidance soon.

Emirates and Etihad were the subject of intense lobbying by three US legacy airlines — Delta, American Airlines and United — which wanted the US to tear up its open skies agreements with the UAE and Qatar over alleged unfair subsidies to the two nations’ fast-growing state-owned airlines, which have become the dominant force in worldwide long-haul aviation. It was not clear whether Qatar was included in the new measures.

Neither Emirates, Etihad nor Qatar Airways would comment on the new measures.

Via FT