Wave of tighter security on electronics hits aviation industry
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FOLLOWING a controversial Trump-endorsed “Muslim ban”, US and Britain recently imposed restrictions on carry-on electronic devices from airports in select Muslim-majority countries.
The US Department of Homeland Security said passengers traveling from a specific list of airports could not bring into the main cabin devices larger than a mobile phone such as tablets, portable DVD players, laptops and cameras.
Instead, such items must be in checked baggage.
The announcement brought on claims the US were directly targeting Gulf carriers that have seen major success especially among business and first-class passengers.
Emirates president Tim Clark told CNN, “To suggest Dubai doesn’t have the equal capabilities or better than the Europeans, the Americans and the Asians in terms of search, interdiction and surveillance, I find amazing.”
The theory was dismissed by US officials.
In a separate interview with Bloomberg, Clark said, “If there’s a risk laptops can be used during flights for terrorist activity, then the restriction should be applied to the airline industry universally.”
To cushion the blow of the ban, Etihad will lend free iPads and WiFi to first and business-class passengers while Qatar Airways introduced a program to loan out laptops.
Meanwhile, Australia introduced random “explosive detection screening” of passengers flying in from a handful of Middle Eastern cities such as Doha, Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
Security personnel are also entitled to random checks of electronic devices.
An Emirates spokesman told ArabianBusiness.com passengers traveling from Dubai International Airport to Australia should allow more time for clearance at the gate.
The wave of increased security has also caught on in Indonesia where airport authorities have enforced checks for electronics brought into planes.
Passengers are required to put their electronics through an X-Ray machine, a procedure said to reduce the risk of “bomb threats”.
Concerning the electronics ban, International Air Transport Association (IATA) CEO Alexandre de Juniac said in a statement n: “Even in the short term it is difficult to understand their effectiveness.
“We call on governments to work with the industry to find a way to keep flying secure without separating passengers from their personal electronics.”