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Fri 24 Mar 2017 01:54 PM

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UAE aviation chief says 'surprised' by US electronics ban

General Civil Aviation Authority chairman says UAE is ranked first in world for airport security and safety standards

UAE aviation chief says 'surprised' by US electronics ban
An Emirates Air Airbus lands at Dubai International airport. (Karim Sahib/AFP/Getty Images)

The chairman of the UAE's aviation authority has expressed his "surprise" after local airports were included in a US ban on laptops and tablets being carried onto aircraft cabins.

Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri, chairman of the General Civil Aviation Authority, said in a statement that the UAE has seen "outstanding performance of the aviation industry and airports".

The implementation of a ban on carrying electronic devices larger than smart phones in the cabin in direct flights between the UAE and US airports also applies to a total of 10 airports in the region.

Expressing his surprise, Al Mansouri said: “The UAE is the number one ranked country worldwide by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) regarding the UAE’s compliance with international security and safety standards, and we noted some differences between the US and UK prohibition of electronic devices."

A similar British ban covers all airports in Turkey, Jordan and four other countries, but not the UAE.

Saif Mohammed Al Suwaidi, director general of the GCAA, added: "There is international cooperation on high level in combating and addressing threats to civil aviation around the world and we are eager to maintain the same level of cooperation with the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA)."

The US selected the UAE as one of the first countries in the world to implement pre-clearance facilities at Abu Dhabi International Airport "in clear demonstration of their trust in the ability of the UAE civil aviation system to process passenger securely, safely and in accordance with the highest international standards and practices", he said.

The General Civil Aviation Authority said in the statement that it will continue to cooperate with the US authorities "to ensure the common objective of a secure and safe transportation system as our first priority".

The prohibition of electronic devices larger than smart phones in the cabin is expected to come into force on Saturday until further notice.

Dubai's Emirates airline on Thursday announced it will provide a free packing-and-handling service for passengers on flights hit by a US ban on electronic devices larger than a standard smartphone.

Emirates will allow passengers to hold on to their laptops and tablets after checking in until boarding time, when security staff at the gates will themselves pack the devices into boxes and load them onto the flight.

The devices will be returned to their owners upon arrival in the United States free of charge.

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