American and European officials met in Brussels yesterday to discuss the Trump administration’s proposed ban on laptops and tablets on trans-Atlantic flights, and according to reports, the measure won’t be implemented anytime soon.
The BBC reported Wednesday that officials from the US and EU “decided against” the ban following yesterday’s meeting, though “other measures” are still under consideration. An unnamed official told the Associated Press that the proposal is “off the table” for the time being. Officials are due to meet again next week in Washington, DC.
The proposed measure, as reported earlier this month, would expand an electronics ban currently in place on certain US-bound flights from eight majority-Muslim countries. The current measure prohibits travelers from bringing any devices that are “larger than a smartphone” as carry-on items. The UK announced a similar ban in March that affects flights from six countries.
US 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. But the airline industry has pushed back, warning that expanding the electronics ban to Europe would result in higher costs and new security threats.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said this week that such an expansion would cost passengers $1.1 billion a year due to longer travel times and lost productivity. The IATA also said the measure would mark a dramatic expansion of the ban currently in place, impacting an estimated 390 flights a day. The current ban affects 350 flights a week, the IATA said.
In a letter to the US Department of Homeland Security and the European Commission, IATA Director General Alexandre de Juniac called on officials to explore “alternative measures,” including better bomb detection technology and behavioral screening. De Juniac also said that storing electronics in a plane’s cargo area could increase the risk of lithium-ion batteries catching fire, as reported by Reuters.
A joint statement from the European Commission and the Department of Homeland Security said officials will meet again next week in Washington, DC “to further assess shared risks and solutions for protecting airline passengers, whilst ensuring the smooth functioning of global air travel.”