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Thursday, 6 July 2017

US lifts electronic ban on Qatar flights

Qatar on Thursday became the third nation on a list of eight Muslim-majority countries, where ban on electronic devices in aircraft cabins heading to the U.S. has been lifted.

Two days earlier, Turkey was removed from the list as well as the Dubai-based Emirates Airlines.
In late March, the new US administration imposed a ban on large electronic devices from airline cabins on direct flights out of Middle Eastern airports in eight countries.

The 10 affected airports are in Abu Dhabi, Amman, Cairo, Casablanca, Doha, Dubai, Istanbul, Jeddah, Kuwait City and Riyadh. US authorities cited security concerns for the ban.

The US move followed President Donald Trump’s 90-day ban on most travellers from Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen, and a 120-day halt to refugee approvals from around the world.

A few days later, the British government said that Britain would follow the U.S. ban on electronic devices.

“We have been in close touch with the Americans to fully understand their position,” Prime Minister Theresa May’s office said.

After three-and-a-half months of restricting the devices on Middle East flights to the US, the United 
Arab Emirates announced that the ban had been lifted on Etihad Airways on Sunday.

The relaxation of the order came after the UAE, Turkey and Qatar implemented additional security measures.

The US had justified the decision as a protective security measure against potential terror attacks.

The US said intelligence authorities suspected terrorist groups of continuing “to target commercial aviation, to include smuggling explosive devices in various consumer items”.

Saudi Arabia may be the fourth country where the ban on electronic devices will be lifted.

Saudi Arabian Airlines is working with the General Authority of Civil Aviation on implementing new security measures in connection with the guidelines issued by the US Department Homeland Security, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Tuesday.

“As soon as Saudi Arabian Airlines meets the US Homeland Security Department’s requirements, all passengers will be allowed to carry electronic devices on flights heading to the US latest by July 19,’’ the  agency said.Turkey is also in talks with Britain to lift a similar ban, the Turkish transportation minister told private broadcaster, NTV.On April 19, Dubai-based airline, Emirates, said it would decrease flights to five from its 12 US destinations starting May 1 due to weakened demand.

Turkish Airlines said the ban affected a total of 1,087 flights in the past months.

However, the US laptop ban is still being considered for flights from Europe, with the Department of Homeland Security saying on May 30 that the ban was still “on the table.”

By the end of June, the US said it would require more stringent screening of passengers boarding commercial flights to the US as part of a series of aviation security measures.

The new measures are independent of the ban on large electronic devices and would affect 280 airports in 105 countries and 180 airlines.

The measures include enhanced screening of electronic devices, more thorough passenger vetting and new measures designed to mitigate the potential threat of insider attacks. (NAN)

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