The US government has introduced a ban on electronics : laptops, tablets, cameras, and all other electronic devices bigger than a phone on incoming flights from airports in the Middle East.
The ban on electronics pertains to 10 airports: Amman (Jordan), Cairo (Egypt), Istanbul (Turkey), Jeddah and Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), Kuwait, Casablanca (Morocco), Doha (Qatar), and Dubai and Abu Dhabi (UAE).
This affects some of the best airlines: Qatar, Emirates, Etihad, Turkish, and others.
The very unusual move was soon followed by the Brits, but they have excluded the Big Three (Qatar, Emirates, Etihad).
The decision is a precedent for several reasons.
When in 2006 the Bush administration introduced restrictive regulations regarding bringing fluids on board, the decision was made on the basis of uncovered liquid explosives that the terrorists had attempted to smuggle in. The Tuesday decision does not have any such basis known to us as of yet.
Experts even claim the opposite. Namely, the chances of the lithium-ion battery present in laptops and the majority of other devices combusting is perhaps one in five million. If this happens, then it’s a small fire that should be distinguished right away. This, however, cannot be done if the laptop is in a suitcase in the cargo section of the plane.
Some claim this is the government’s response to the witch hunt by US airlines (Delta, United, American…) claiming that the Big Three airlines from the Gulf are disloyal competition. The Arabian companies are much better than the US and European ones, and it’s starting to bother everyone. They are driving the prices down and receiving subsidies from their rich owners – sheikhs. Still, passengers like them because of more comfortable planes and lower prices. Passengers from Croatia will be most affected by this if they wish to travel to the US with Turkish, which has good fares to New York.
American airlines do not fly directly to these airports, so it is expected that at the beginning this will benefit Europeans the most, because this part of traffic will be redirected to Frankfurt, London, Paris and Amsterdam. Many business travellers, who account for the majority of airline passengers, cannot put their laptops into checked-in baggage due to their respective company regulations on data protection.
Emirates has instantly responded with an advertising campaign asking wittily who needs tablets and laptops anyway, let them entertain you.
It is difficult to say how long this ban will last. Airports in Doha, Dubai and Abu Dhabi have US officers checking the luggage on US bound flights, so it seems pointless if politics and ignoring are not behind the whole thing.
Forbes claims ban on electronics is a protectionist decision.
The ban on electronics on board is a controversial decision that will affect US bound passenger traffic from that part of the world.