IATA Chief criticises device ban by US and UK

British and US bans on laptops and tablet computers in aircraft cabins are not sustainable in the long term, according to the head of the International Air Transport Association.

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The current measures are not acceptable as a long-term solution to whatever threat they are trying to mitigate,” said director general Alexandre de Juniac.

“Even in the short term, it is difficult to understand their effectiveness. And the commercial distortions they create are severe,” he said during a speech in Montreal.

“We call on governments to work with the industry to find a way to keep flying secure without separating passengers from their personal electronics.”

Last week, Washington banned electronic devices bigger than mobile phones on direct flights to the US from 10 airports in seven Middle Eastern countries and Turkey.

Britain followed with a similar ban from five countries from the Middle East and North Africa, and Turkey.

US officials said the measure was intended to thwart possible attacks on airliners with small explosive devices hidden in consumer electronics.

In theory, it would be harder to hide a bomb in checked luggage because these are usually scanned with more sophisticated equipment.

De Juniac indicated that the lack of advanced consultation with the airline industry was regrettable and pointed to “little coordination by governments” in the measure’s rollout.

He also questioned the non-uniformity of the law: “How can laptops be secure in the cabin on some flights and not others (from the same airport)?” he said.

“And surely there must be a way to screen electronic equipment effectively at airport checkpoints?”

The countries impacted by the ban are Turkey, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Morocco.

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