Updated: The UK is expected to follow the US in banning electronics larger than smartphones in airline cabins on flights from certain nations in the Middle East and North Africa.
The BBC reported that the UK is looking at banning electronic devices like laptops and tablets from cabin luggage due to concerns over security threats from extremists originating from countries where the threat of terrorism is high.
The government, notably the Department for Transport has yet to make an announcement to confirm that the UK will follow the US’ lead, which announced the move earlier today but it it being “concerned about terrorists’ ongoing interest in targeting commercial aviation, including transportation hubs over the past two years
The new guidelines mean passengers must check all electronic devices larger than a mobile phone into the plane’s hold, including e-book readers, iPads, cameras and laptops.
Mobile phones and medical devices are exempted.
Royal Jordanian Airlines and Saudia Airlines were amongst those to confirm having received the new guidelines in an email from the US’ Transportation Security Administration (TSA), which cited an unspecified extremist threat.
Unnamed US officials told several news outlets that the measure had been under consideration for several weeks, while CNN said it had been spurred by intelligence gathered abroad.
US Homeland Security secretary John Kelly telephoned lawmakers over the weekend to brief them on the aviation security issues he claimed were behind the electronics ban, according to reports citing unnamed officials.
The ban has no end date, officials said.
While a formal list hasn’t yet been released, a US government official told Associated Press ten airports were affected, including two each in Saudia Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
The most severely affected by the change is likely to be Dubai’s Emirates airline, which operates 119 flights a week to destinations across the US and is a major force in international travel, also carrying passengers between Asia and the US via Dubai.
The list cited by the AP includes Queen Alia International in Amman, Jordan; Cairo International Airport; Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport; King Abdulaziz International in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; King Khalid International in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; Kuwait International Airport; Mohammed V International in Casablanca; Hamad International in Doha, Qatar; and Abu Dhabi International and Dubai International in the United Arab Emirates.
The move is the latest sweeping security move by the Trump presidential administration, following Trump’s promises during his election campaign to take action against militant threats.
In January the administration issued an order barring individuals holding passports from several Muslim-majority countries from entering the US, but the original order and a second version have both met with legal challenges that mean they are not currently in force.
The Department of Homeland Security declined to comment.
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