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US likely to expand airline laptop ban to Europe - government officials

US likely to expand airline laptop ban to Europe - government officials

A senior official with a US airline said that carriers had been in talks with government officials for weeks about the possibility of an expanded ban, mainly over the logistics of carrying it out.

USA and European officials said they expect the DHS to announce the ban as soon as Thursday.

The UK followed suit by restricting the use of electronics larger than phones on flights direct to the UK from Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia.

"No final decisions have been made on expanding the restriction on large electronic devices in aircraft cabins; however, it is under consideration", the DHS said in a statement. Two EU officials said the discussions had so far concentrated on maintaining a common front.

Kelly was scheduled to meet President Donald Trump on Friday but a DHS official said the meeting is about a different topic.

Storing laptops and larger tablets in baggage holds creates safety concerns because their lithium batteries can catch fire.

More than 350 flights a day travel from Europe to the U.S. But, it's not just the airlines that would be hit.

The airline industry strongly opposes any move to expand the electronics ban, which could cost airlines millions of dollars in lost customers.

Trump willing to use engagement on North Korea crisis
Ties between the countries have plunged over the deployment in South Korea of a USA missile defense system called THAAD . The threat from Pyongyang presents US President Donald Trump with one of his greatest security challenges.

DHS has yet to confirm that the ban will be extended, but said it continues to "evaluate the threat environment".

Last month, the USA banned laptops on flights from countries including the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey following fears that laptop batteries could be used to house bombs.

The proposed expanded ban is based on growing concern about an explosive getting past airport scanners.

A United States ban on now ubiquitous laptops could cause havoc with more than 3,250 flights a week scheduled to leave European Union airports for the U.S. this summer, according to industry data.

European aviation security experts are meeting in Brussels on Thursday to consider possible responses to any extension of the ban.

The DHS already confirmed that it was considering expanding restrictions on laptops and similar electronic devices in aircraft cabins, to include flights from Europe and other parts of the world.

The travel industry is not on board with the ban expansion.


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