Emirates and Turkish Airlines Say Laptop Ban Is Lifted on Their US Flights – New York Times

Emirates and Turkish Airlines, however, said that they had already been given clearance, and the Turkish carrier said that a flight with passengers carrying laptops onboard had left Istanbul for New York early Wednesday.

“Effective immediately, the electronics ban has been lifted for Emirates’ flights from Dubai International Airport to the U.S.A.,” Emirates said in a statement, adding that it had been working with the local authorities to put in place new security guidelines for all flights to the United States.

Saudia, the national carrier of Saudi Arabia, said that it expected the laptop ban to be lifted on its flights by July 19, Reuters reported, citing the state news agency SPA.

The original ban on devices applied to direct flights to the United States from 10 cities in eight countries: Amman, Jordan; Cairo; Istanbul; Jidda and Riyadh in Saudi Arabia; Kuwait City; Casablanca, Morocco; Doha, Qatar; and Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.

An official for Qatar Airways who has been briefed on the matter, but who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss it publicly, said the United States was trying to compel all affected airports to comply with new security procedures.

The T.S.A. told the airports last Thursday that they had 21 days, the official said, to put in place explosive trace detection screening for all United States-bound passengers and their bags — whether in the main cabin or in the hold.

That type of screening is already carried out at some airports, like Hamad International in Doha, on a random basis, but the Qatar Airways official said that the United States was demanding the stricter approach at all airports on the list because of concerns about terrorism.

Ugur Cebeci, a Turkish aviation expert, said that Ataturk Airport in Istanbul had upgraded security measures to meet the demands of the United States — only the latest generation of devices can detect plastic explosives, he said — and acknowledged that American concerns were legitimate.

Still, he said, many in Turkey are skeptical about the circumstances surrounding the restrictions. “American companies find it difficult to compete in this region with Turkish Airlines and numerous Gulf airlines,” he said. “The Trump administration has been pressured by American companies for leverage in competition, so the real purpose of the ban is open to debate.”

In late May, the United States said it was considering a ban on electronic devices larger than cellphones from passenger cabins on direct flights to the United States from more foreign airports. But a month later the Department of Homeland Security announced that passengers would instead be subject to more rigorous screening of luggage and electronic devices.

In recent years, extremist groups have staged attacks on transportation hubs, including at an airport in Brussels and in Istanbul, and bombed a Russian airliner in Egypt in October 2015.


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