US, EU in Urgent Talks on Pitch to Expand Laptop Ban

Kelly briefed members of Congress Thursday and held a meeting with high level executives at Delta Air Lines DAL.N , United Airlines UAL.N and American Airlines Group Inc AAL.O . It said a formal announcement will come Thursday.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will reportedly ban laptops on all USA -bound flights from Europe amid increasing concern over terrorists trying to hide explosives in consumer electronics. But DHS officials told the Reuters and dpa news agencies that no final decisions had been made.

Officials from France, Britain, Germany, Spain and Italy took part in the conference call Friday with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The restriction was introduced in March over fears that bombs or explosive materials could be concealed on electronic devices brought onboard.

DHS said its Middle East/North Africa ban would stay in place until the threat changes, and indicated in a Q&A about the policy in March that additional destinations could be added if deemed necessary.

Neither the DHS nor the Transportation Security Administration would confirm the report.

Jeffrey Price, an aviation-security expert at Metropolitan State University of Denver, said the original ban focused on certain countries because their equipment to screen carry-on bags is not as effective as machines in the U.S.

She said the European Union had no new information about a specific security concern. In March, laptops were banned from the cabins of US -bound flights from 10 airports in the Middle East and North Africa.


Some carriers serving those routes have begun loaning equipment to premium customers.

At the Delta area of the Cincinnati airport, a sign warned passengers that beginning Friday on flights returning to the US any electronic devices other than a cellphone would have to be placed in checked baggage. The European Commission has written to President Donald Trump's administration to urge cooperation on any new measures.

"We are in contact with our partners and the authorities, and we're preparing for the possibility", Air France spokeswoman Ulli Gendrot said by phone.

Lufthansa is also working on different scenarios regarding this ban, informed Helmut Tolksdorf, the spokesman. Both companies have close ties to major US operators, with Air France-KLM allied to Delta Air Lines Inc. and Lufthansa partnered with United Continental Holdings Inc.

DHS denied the claim, but admitted it was considering such a ban.

However, that number would grow to include major USA carriers as well.

A discussion within the International Civil Aviation Organization was initiated on Tuesday after several countries, including Egypt and the UAE, issued formal complaints they that were being unnecessarily penalized, Reuters reports. "The key thing is to make sure the message is communicated in a coherent way".

The controversial security measures have been criticized by Middle Eastern airlines and other aviation experts, who have questioned the rationale for the policy, complained about the impact on their business, and warned of safety risks associated with carrying large numbers of lithium batteries in the cargo hold of aircraft. Lithium-powered batteries have been linked to fires.


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