US tightens airport security

US tightens airport security
By Catherine Hardy with REUTERS
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Airline trade groups are warning the changes might cause disruption.

The US has unveiled enhanced security measures for flights to the country designed to prevent expanding an in-cabin ban on laptops.


Airline trade groups are warning the changes might cause disruption.

In numbers: who will be affected?

  • 325,000 airline passengers
  • 2,000 commercial flights per day
  • 180 airlines
  • From 280 airports
  • 105 countries

      Since laptops are widely used in flight by business class passengers – who pay double or more than the average ticket price – the airline industry had feared expanding the ban could cut into the revenue.

      What effect will they have?

      The measures, which EU and US officials say will begin taking effect within three weeks, could require additional time to screen passengers and personal electronic devices for possible explosives.

      This is not the first time this has happened, is it?

      No. In March, the US banned laptops on flights to the US originating at 10 airports in eight countries, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and Turkey.

      It was an attempt to address fears that bombs could be concealed in electronic devices taken onboard aircraft.

      Homeland security officials say those 10 airports can get off the list if they meet the new security requirements, but did not say how long it would take.

      Was it just the US that did this?

      No. The UK quickly followed suit with a similar set of restrictions.

      What is the thinking behind this?

      The US authorities want increased security protocols around aircraft and in passenger areas, expanded canine screening and additional places where travellers can be cleared by US officials before they depart.

      It is a question of security.

      What are the airlines saying?

      US carriers say they will follow the new security directive. However, industry trade group Airlines for America (A4A) criticised Homeland Security for not working more closely with them on the new policies.

      The decision not to impose new laptop restrictions eases airlines’ concerns that expanding the ban to Europe or other locations could cause major logistical problems and deter travel.

      However, airline officials say they are concerned about adding enhanced security measures to all airports worldwide that have direct flights to the US, rather than focus them on airports where threats are highest.

      European airline groups say that, if the threats are confirmed, the restrictions should be deployed to cover all EU departing flights and not just US-bound ones.

      How long do the airlines have to bring the measures in?

      European and US officials say airlines have 21 days to put in place increased explosive trace detection screening.

      They have 120 days to comply with other security measures, including enhanced screening of airline passengers.

      The business

      US airline stocks rose on Wednesday, with United Continental Holdings closing up 1 percent, Delta Air Lines Inc up 2 percent and American Airlines Group up 1.6 percent.

      What they are saying

      “Inaction is not an option,” – US Homeland Security Secretary, John Kelly sasy the measures are not the last step to tighten security.

      “The development of the security directive should have ben subject to a greater degree of collaboration and coordination to avoid the significant operational disruptions and unnecessarily frustrating consequences for the travelling public that appear likely to happen,” – A4A Chief Executive Nicholas E.Calio.

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