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US, EU in urgent discussions on pitch to expand laptop ban

US considers banning laptops on all flights from EuropeMore US considers banning laptops on all flights from EuropeMore
Eleena Tovar | 19 May, 2017, 19:59

The UK and the U.S. have banned laptops and tablet computers from the passenger compartment of flights from several Middle East and North African nations.

A senior official with a US airline said that carriers had been in talks with government officials for weeks about the possibility of an expanded ban, mainly over the logistics of carrying it out.

Now, unnamed "European security officials" have told The Daily Beast that the ban would be announced on Thursday. The UK imposed a similar ban shortly after, although its list of countries notably excluded the large hubs in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha.

U.S. Homeland Security spokesman David Lapan said that there has been no final decision made on whether to expand the restrictions.

"We're expecting something to happen, we're just not sure exactly what or when", said a senior executive at a major European airline.

A report by Reuters said that the United States government is reviewing "how to ensure lithium batteries stored in luggage holds do not explode in midair".

Right now the ban is in place in ten airports across eight different countries.

A ban on electronic items larger than a regular-sized smartphone would play havoc with travelers' plans, especially business travelers looking to stay productive whilst in the air.

The discussion, the latest in a series of meetings that have been held, will include domestic and worldwide airline industry officials, an airline industry source said.

However, this move is increasing fears in the aviation industry that as well as guarding against bombs this ban could actually endanger flights.

In March, the United States announced laptop restrictions on flights originating from 10 airports including in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey because of fears that a concealed bomb could be installed in electronic devices taken onto aircraft.

The proposed expanded ban is based on growing concern about an explosive getting past airport scanners. The airline said profits were affected by a turbulent year, including heightened immigration concerns, terror attacks in several European cities, an attempted military coup in Turkey and uncertainty caused by Britain's vote to leave the European Union.