Published: Thu, June 29, 2017
Markets | By Terence Owen

Enhanced airport security in US could end laptop ban

Enhanced airport security in US could end laptop ban

The Homeland Security Department is demanding that airlines around the world step up security measures for global flights bound for the United States or face the possibility of a total electronics ban for planes. Airlines that failed to satisfy new security requirements could still face future in-cabin electronics restrictions, the sources said.

Officials at the Homeland Security Department said 280 airports in 105 countries would be affected by the tightened security - impacting around 2,000 flights a day.

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly announced the rollout of the new rules Wednesday.

"Today is just the starting point", Mr. Kelly said as he announced the plans at the Center for a New American Security. He said the United States would boost security to a "much higher level".

If airlines can't, or won't, implement the new procedures, they will be banned from transporting personal electronic devices to the United States in both the cabin and the cargo hold.

The updated protocols include "enhanced screening" of passengers and their electronic devices, as well as "seen and unseen" security around the aircraft and inside the airport, according to DHS. Agency officials speaking on background said the measures are a directive for airlines to follow since DHS does not have jurisdiction over foreign airports.

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The DHS officials said it would be "a mistake" that puts "passengers at risk" if they don't comply.

The government had considered expanding the laptop ban to include some European airports, though in recent public comments Kelly had suggested the government was looking at alternatives. Immediately following the USA announcement, the United Kingdom government imposed its own ban, which affected both foreign and domestic carriers.

Kelly, who was speaking in Washington on Wednesday afternoon, said he planned a "step by step " security enhancement plan that included short, medium-term, and longer-term improvements that would take at least a year to implement completely.

Kelly met with senior airline executives in May and Homeland Security officials have had repeated meetings with US airline executives.

The new measures couldn't come soon enough for experts like Robert Mann, analyst at R.W. Mann & Co, who told Reuters that current screening of carry-on luggage "can't tell the difference between a block of cheese, a romance novel and a block of semtex plastic explosives because they're all about the same density".

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