By Neil Halligan
Emirates said the airline and aviation officials are "working hard" to have the electronics ban lifted as soon as possible
Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia) expects the ban on large electronic devices from the cabins of aircraft travelling to the United States to be lifted by July 19.
The national carrier, in a statement to Arabian Business, said it is working in conjunction with the kingdom's General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) to implement the new directives from the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
"Saudia is currently working to meet all requirements outlined by the DHS with this regard. On or before July 19, all guests travelling on Saudia flights to the United States will be permitted to take laptops and PEDs (portable electronic devices) into the aircraft cabin," a spokesperson said.
Saudia operates flights to the US from Jeddah
Emirates, the world’s biggest long-haul airline, said it is "working hard" with various aviation stakeholders and the local authorities to implement the heightened security measures and protocols that meet the requirements for US bound flights.
"We hope that we will receive validation that all measures have been successfully implemented so that the electronics ban can be lifted as soon as possible for our US flights,” an Emirates spokesperson said.
Abu Dhabi, the home base of Etihad Airways, became the first airport to see the laptops ban lifted Sunday, aided by a so called pre-clearance regime in which travellers are subject to US border checks before boarding the plane.
The lifting of the ban at major Middle East hubs will spell relief for carriers after the measures led some customers to switch to airlines where they could still use large personal devices en route.
US restrictions on visas for citizens of six Muslim-majority countries could still mean fewer passengers on some flights, while demand from the Gulf has weakened as the low price of crude holds back oil-based economies.
At the same time a political dispute between Qatar and several of its Arab neighbours has forced Qatar Airways to scrap some flights and divert others.
Abu Dhabi’s laptops ban was lifted after US Transportation Security Administration officials assessed enhanced security procedures in a two-hour check late Saturday, according to Abdul Majeed Al Khoori, acting chief executive officer of the airport’s parent company.
The airport was one of 10 in the Middle East and North Africa where American authorities stopped passengers from bringing electronic items larger than mobile phones onto US-bound planes as of late March.
US officials are pushing hubs to beef up security after intelligence reports indicated terrorist groups may be capable of hiding bombs in the devices.
Emirates has previously said it suffered a drop in bookings and had to ground 13 planes because of US restrictions on entry visas as well as the electronic carry-ons.
Dubai Airports has “offered our full cooperation to work with regulatory officials, control authorities and Emirates” to ease limits on devices, but the operator can’t estimate when they’ll end, a spokesman said.
*With BloombergFor all the latest transport news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.