Australia mulls laptop ban on flights from some West Asian countries

Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly speaks about border security during a press briefing at the White House in Washington

The White House raised hackles in March with a ban on the use of laptops on flights between the US and 10 Middle Eastern and North African airports, citing nebulous safety concerns that the computers could be used to hide explosive devices. It said the ban had a direct impact on demand for air travel into the U.S. and it faced rising costs from introducing complimentary laptop loans to some passengers.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) warned that if implemented, the ban could cause as much as $1.1 billion in lost time.

United Kingdom and European Union representatives are scheduled to meet with U.S. counter-terrorism officials in Brussels to thrash-out a deal concerning transatlantic trips, which sees 65 million people travel between Europe and North American on 400 daily flights, each year.

"An expanded electronics ban would disproportionately affect airlines' most profitable customers-business travelers", Harteveldt continues.

The ban was introduced following intelligence that terrorist plans were afoot to hide bombs inside the cavities of laptop computers. This extension could, potentially, jump the number of affected flights up from 50 to more than 400 flights a day.

EU Home Affairs Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos and Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc took part in what USA officials said were four hours of "robust" talks with a U.S. delegation led by Deputy Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke.

BRUSSELS (AP) — The intelligence behind plans to broaden a USA ban on in-flight laptops and tablets to include planes from Europe took center stage on Wednesday as American and European officials met to discuss the looming decision.

Be prepared for another indignity: The White House is considering new rules that will prevent passengers from carrying laptops aboard flights from London and several European cities to the U.S. And such a proposal wouldn't just inconvenience customers; it has the potential to devastate the airline industry by driving away customers and leading to a sharp drop-off in bookings and profits.

"[The ban] would hit the Continent's busiest airports hardest, where a significant portion of US -bound flights would need to be canceled at short notice", said Olivier Jankovec, director general of ACI Europe.

But U.S. aviation-security officials appear determined to ban large electronic devices in the cabin of flights from Europe.

The airline industry had feared the widening of the laptop ban would mean longer lines at security, significant delays and confusion at boarding gates during the busy summer period. For laptops that must be checked, he added, companies will take steps to better lock down information contained on them "and then just deal with the short-term challenges and loss of productivity".

United States officials have defended the ban as a measure to thwart terrorist attacks, saying that intelligence shows that ISIS is developing smaller bombs that could be concealed in electronic devices. She said she will use her cellphone - those aren't covered by the ban - to answer emails.

Europe's aviation regulator voiced concern on Wednesday (5 April) over the risk of battery fires in the cargo holds of passenger planes after U.S. and British authorities banned certain electronics from passenger cabins.

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