Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Aviation


Electronic restrictions lifted
July 2017 1420

The US Transportation Security Administration said it was lifting a ban on passengers on Saudi Arabian Airlines carrying large electronics like laptops onboard US-bound flights, the last carrier under the restrictions.

In March, US officials imposed restrictions on passengers carrying laptops and other large electronic gear in cabins on nine airlines, most of which were Middle Eastern carriers, to address the potential threat of hidden explosives.

An airline official briefed on the matter said the directive gave airlines more flexibility and additional time to obtain explosive trace detection equipment.

The new requirements include enhanced passenger screening at foreign airports, increased security protocols around aircraft and in passenger areas and expanded canine screening. They affect 325,000 airline passengers on about 2,000 commercial flights arriving daily in the United States, on 180 airlines from 280 airports in 105 countries.

TSA spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein defended the new security requirements unveiled in June that were aimed at avoiding expansion of the laptop ban. She said the agency has been working with airlines for months to keep them informed on security issues.

The International Air Transport Association reported that the portable electronics ban may have been affecting US-bound traffic from the Middle East. The route-level data from March (the most recent month available) show that RPKs (Revenue Passenger Kilometres measures actual passenger traffic) flown by Middle East airlines to the US fell in year-on-year terms by 2.8 per cent for the month. This was the first annual decline recorded for this market in at least seven years.

While traffic growth on the market segment already was slowing, the decline is consistent with some disruption from the portable electronic devices ban that was announced on  March 21, as well as a wider impact on inbound travel to the US from the Trump Administration’s proposed travel bans.  


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