The International Air Transport Association (IATA) on Tuesday questioned the security value of large electronic device carry-on restrictions implemented days ago by the United States and United Kingdom and called on the governments to urgently find alternatives.
In speech to the Montreal Council on Foreign Relations, IATA Director General and CEO Alexandre de Juniac said, “The current measures are not an acceptable long-term solution to whatever threat they are trying to mitigate. Even in the short term, it is difficult to understand their effectiveness. And the commercial distortions they create are severe.”
On March 20, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Transportation Security Administration announced they were implementing restrictions on flights to the United States from 10 Middle East and North African airports that called for all personal electronic devices larger than a cell phone or smart phone to be placed in checked baggage. The cabin electronics ban applies to laptops, tables, e-readers, cameras, portable DVD players, electronic game units larger than a smart phone, and travel printers/scanners, among other items, according to a DHS fact sheet.
The next day, the U.K. government announced its own carry-on ban on laptops and tablets on inbound flights from six countries. Unlike the U.S. ban, the U.K. restrictions affect several U.K.-based airlines as well as international carriers.
De Juniac said the airline industry came together quickly to implement the new requirements, which was a challenge “because there was no consultation and little coordination” by the governments.
“Now, along with our customers, we are asking some questions that underpin confidence in our security measures: Why don’t the U.S. and U.K. have a common list of airports? How can laptops be secure in the cabin on some flights and not others … especially on flights originating at a common airport? And, surely there must be a way to screen electronic equipment effectively at airport checkpoints?”