CEO of airline association criticizes electronics device ban

CEO of airline association criticizes electronics device ban

MONTREAL — The head of the International Air Transport Association said Tuesday it’s difficult to understand how banning electronic devices in carry-on baggage will improve flight security.

In a prepared text of a speech, IATA CEO Alexandre de Juniac calls on governments to work with the transport industry to ensure passengers aren’t separated from their laptops, tablets and other devices.

The U.S. and Britain are citing concerns about terrorist attacks to prohibit passengers on some flights from mostly Middle Eastern and North African countries from bringing laptops, tablets and certain other devices on board in their carry-on bags. All electronics bigger than a smartphone must be checked in.

“The current measures are not an acceptable long-term solution to whatever threat they are trying to mitigate,” de Juniac said in a speech at the Montreal Council on Foreign Relations. “Even in the short term it is difficult to understand their effectiveness. And the commercial distortions they create are severe. We call on governments to work with the industry to find a way to keep flying secure without separating passengers from their personal electronics.”

De Juniac said airlines and passengers are asking why the U.S. and Britain have different lists of affected airports.

The U.S. ban applies to nonstop U.S.-bound flights from 10 international airports in Amman, Jordan; Kuwait City, Kuwait; Cairo; Istanbul; Jeddah and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; Casablanca, Morocco; Doha, Qatar; and Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. About 50 flights a day, all on foreign airlines, are affected. The British rules apply to flights from Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia.

“How can laptops be secure in the cabin on some flights and not others … especially on flights originating at a common airport,” he said.

“And surely there must be a way to screen electronic equipment effectively at airport checkpoints?”

He also complained about the challenge of implementing the new requirements when there was no prior consultation and little co-ordination by governments. The International Air Transport Association represents most airlines that fly internationally.

U.S. officials say the decision was prompted by intelligence about potential threats to planes bound for the U.S. They are giving no details, such as whether a particular terror group prompted the ban.

Some travellers and civil liberties groups have denounced the ban, raising concerns that include lost worktime on long flights and worries that checking laptops in baggage will make them more vulnerable to theft.

The Associated Press

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