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US now mulls laptop ban on flights from Europe

13 May 2017

Airline and travel-industry groups are concerned over a plan being considered by US security authorities to bar passengers from carrying their laptop computers into the cabin on flights from Europe.

Extending electronics restrictions that have been placed on a number of Middle Eastern and African airports to Europe would disrupt one of the world's busiest and most lucrative travel markets just ahead of the peak summer tourism season. It could also hurt the ability of business passengers to work on their laptops on long-haul routes across the Atlantic.

In statements issued yesterday, two travel trade groups, the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) and the US Travel Association, called for addressing genuine security risks but also urged the US Homeland Security department to be as flexible as possible to minimise disruptions.

''The question remains whether the targeted application of policies banning personal electronics is an effective measure to reduce the risk of terrorism,'' Michael McCormick, GBTA executive director, said in a statement on Thursday.

Over 3,000 flights are expected to arrive in the US from the EU each week this summer. The US was the world's second-largest market for business travel spending, after China, according to the GBTA. Global spending for business travel exceeded $1.3 trillion and was projected to touch $1.6 trillion by 2020, according to the group.

The details of the Trump administration's plans for electronics ban were not clear but aviation and tourism industries were preparing for the worst.

According to James Stamp, global head of aviation at KPMG, business and luxury travel was likely to take a significant hit from a laptop ban, unless airlines could figure out a workaround.

"The North Atlantic market is highly competitive, but also highly profitable because of the links between the key financial centers of Europe and New York," he said, CNN Money reported.

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