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IATA blasts electronics ban

IATA has slammed the US and UK restrictions on electronics in flights, calling them unacceptable and questioning their effectiveness.

The association’s director general and chief executive Alexandre de Juniac says UK and US authorities should work with the airline industry to “find a way to keep flying secure” without requiring passengers on certain flights to check their electronic devices.

"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,” says de Juniac during a speech to the Montreal Council on Foreign Relations today.

He points to differences between the airports under the US and UK governments’ electronics ban: “Why don’t the US and the UK have a common list of airports? How can laptops be secure in the cabin on some flights and not others, including flights departing from the same airport?”

The US restrictions, announced on 21 March, forbid passengers on US-bound flights departing 10 African and Middle Eastern airports from carrying on-board most electronic devices that are larger than a mobile phone.

UK regulators followed suit shortly after, but its list of restricted airports notably excluded major hubs like Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha.

“The current situation is not acceptable and will not maintain the all-important confidence of the industry or of travelers. We must find a better way,” says de Juniac.

He adds that while affected airlines worked quickly to implement the new security restrictions, the industry was not involved in prior discussions with authorities.

"There was no prior consultation and little coordination by governments,” says de Juniac.

IATA represents most of the carriers affected by the restrictions. This is the second time in recent months that IATA has criticised new government regulations that directly impact airlines.

The grouping had slammed US travel restrictions rolled out by the Trump administration in late January, saying then that they were “issued without prior coordination or warning, causing confusion among both airlines and travellers”.

Those travel restrictions have since been challenged by US courts.

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