Major US airlines and a trade group met on Thursday afternoon with U.S. Homeland Security officials to consider a possibility of expanding a ban on large electronic gadgets on flights from some European airports. They also discussed the impacts that could occur as a result, said sources from the meeting.
The confidential meeting comprised of trade group Airlines for America and airlines executives from United Airlines, American Airlines and Delta Air Lines. Airlines and the officials declined to comment or discuss publicly what the meeting was about.
The Trump administration is likely to include some European countries in the in-cabin ban on gadgets larger than cellphones and is reviewing how to ensure lithium batteries stored in luggage do not explode in midair, Reuters reported on Wednesday.
Homeland Security spokesman David Lapan declined to discuss the meeting. He said on Wednesday that no final decision had been made on expanding the restriction and there would be no announcement on Thursday.
One issue that had been expected to come up at the meeting was how much advance notice airlines would get to impose additional restrictions, which some airline officials say would require hiring more staff.
In March, the Trump Administration announced that passenger flying to the United States from 10 airports mainly in Muslim countries will no longer be allowed to have any electronic devices in the cabins, with the exception of mobiles. Reasons for the ban were unspecified.
Planes emanating from these airports are affected:
- Cairo International Airport, Egypt
- Ataturk International Airport, Istanbul, Turkey
- Abu Dhabi International Airport, UAE
- Dubai International Airport, UAE
- Hamad International Airport, Doha, Qatar
- Queen Alia International Airport, Amman, Jordan
- King Abdul Aziz International Airport, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
- King Khalid International Airport, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
- Kuwait International Airport, Kuwait
- Mohammed V Airport, Casablanca, Morocco
Airlines affected by the US ban:
- Egypt Air
- Etihad Airways
- Turkish Airlines
- Kuwait Airways
- Qatar Airways
- Royal Air Maroc
- Royal Jordanian
- Saudi Airlines
- Turkish Airlines
In 2016, 30 million people flew to the United States from Europe, according to U.S. Transportation Department data.
A broader ban would have a significant impact on U.S. and European carriers, which are concerned about the challenges of checking large numbers of devices. Some U.S. and European airlines have been planning for a wider ban, industry officials have told Reuters.
Earlier Thursday, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly met with senators from relevant oversight committees in a secure Capitol Hill facility to deliver a classified briefing to discuss numerous security issues “including threats to aviation,” Lapan said.
A congressional official said it appeared that Homeland Securitiy was likely to expand the ban soon, but did not say when or to what airports.
Kelly said last month the ban was likely to expand, given the sophisticated threats in aviation and intelligence findings that would-be attackers were trying to hide explosives in electronic devices.