Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
Money | By Armando Alvarado

Laptop ban extension could cost industry over $1bn each year, airlines warn


Homeland security deputy Elaine Duke met two European Commissioners yesterday to discuss the need for extending the ban to flights from Europe to USA destinations. European Union officials have also asked the United States to share its intelligence, saying they don't see evidence for restrictions. Deputy Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke met Wednesday with Dimitris Avramopoulos and Violeta Bulc, the top European Union officials in charge of migration and transportation.

The meeting next week is not tied to any decision by the USA government on expanding the ban, the official said.

"Any threats that affect the USA are the same for Europe". So information should be shared.

He spoke on condition of anonymity to release details of the sensitive negotiations.

The broader US tourism industry is also at risk.

While declining to discuss specific intelligence, the U.S.is basing its consideration of an expansion on the the evolving threat from terrorists, according to the official. They agreed to meet again next week in Washington.

Trump got into trouble for sharing that same intelligence with the Russians during a White House meeting last week.

The flip side of all of this is whether a laptop ban serves a greater objective.

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As many as 65million people a year fly between Europe and North America on nearly 400 daily flights, with many of them being business travellers who rely on devices to work during the long-haul flights.

The Stoxx Europe TMI Airline index, the region's sector benchmark, fell 1.9 per cent by 10:00 BST, outpacing the 0.25 per cent decline for the broader Stoxx Europe 600.

The association says travelers should also consider buying supplemental insurance for their electronic devices, since some plans exclude personal electronics in checked baggage from coverage.

Industry groups worry about the economic consequences of expanding the ban to more flights.

"We are not sure that this ban is adapted to the threat", International Air Transport Association director Alexandre de Junaic told Bloomberg Television. The U.S. delegation, led by Homeland Security Department Deputy Secretary Elaine Duke, wanted to hear European Commission concerns that a ban may be disruptive to the aviation system, said the official, who gave the briefing on condition that he not be identified.

It's estimated roughly two-thirds of travellers on transatlantic flights fly with an electronic device larger than a cellphone, which would mean checking all carry on bags would require an increase in security.

Europe's aviation regulator voiced concern on Wednesday (5 April) over the risk of battery fires in the cargo holds of passenger planes after U.S. and British authorities banned certain electronics from passenger cabins. "The current situation is not acceptable", de Juniac says. Other possibilities include deploying more specially trained security officers and explosives-detecting dogs. The possible ban in Europe would resemble the rule in the Middle East.

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