US mulls expanding airline electronics ban beyond Middle East

"There is a threat out there. We are engaged in a discussion about the threat", says Homeland Security
"There is a threat out there. We are engaged in a discussion about the threat" before deciding on the next steps, Lapan said. (FETHI BELAID/AFP/Getty Images)
By Abdul Rawuf
Wed 10 May 2017 08:52 AM

Anti-terrorist officials in the US are considering expanding the restrictions on carrying electronic devices in airline cabins beyond the handful of Middle East airports currently covered.

Asked if the laptop ban could be expanded to other countries or electronic products, Department of Homeland Security spokesman David Lapan told reporters Tuesday that the agency is in discussions with airlines and others. The agency hasn’t yet determined how it will proceed, Lapan said.

“The secretary has alluded to the fact that is likely to be expanded, but a decision hasn’t been made,” he said, referring to Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly. Kelly told Congress on April 5 that he was considering expanding the order issued on March 21.

"There is a threat out there. We are engaged in a discussion about the threat" before deciding on the next steps, Lapan said.

Lapan said DHS would consider the impact on the summer travel season in deciding if and when to expand the electronics ban, but the timing “would not drive us" in announcing or implementing it.

The order in March covered electronics devices larger than mobile phones on flights heading to the US that originated from 10 Middle Eastern airports, including Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Qatar.

Among the issues the agency is grappling with in expanding the order are safety concerns about putting additional devices with potentially volatile lithium-based batteries that can explode or burn into airliner cargo holds.

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