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US DHS meets with airlines on electronics ban

The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) secretary met with airline representatives today to discuss security threats to aviation, as the agency considers expanding a controversial ban on large electronics in aircraft cabins to include flights from other regions.

John Kelly also met with senators from relevant committees today to "discuss numerous DHS activities to protect the homeland", says a DHS spokesperson. "This included discussing threats to aviation."

He adds that no decision has been made on extending the ban to other flights. "However, it is under consideration," says the spokesman.

Several media reports have said the ban could be extended to US-bound flights departing Europe, although it is not immediately clear how soon this could take place. It is also not immediately clear which countries will be affected.

The ban was first implemented in March, and is in place for US flights departing 10 airports in Muslim-majority countries. Travellers on flights leaving these airports are prohibited from carrying on board any electronic items that are larger than a cell phone. The UK imposed a similar ban shortly after, although its list of countries notably excluded the large hubs in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha.

Expanding the ban to flights from Europe would affect US airlines, who are currently not impacted as they do not operate to the 10 airports. A spokesperson for trade association Airlines for America declines to comment.

IATA and other industry players have criticised the ban, questioning its effectiveness and calling the rule unacceptable.

Emirates, one of the several airlines whose US flights are affected, have cited the electronics ban as a factor behind its decision to cut underperforming flights to the country.

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