MONTREAL: March 28, 2017. Less than a week after the imposition of a laptop ban on certain carriers flying to the UK and U.S. from parts of the Middle East, IATA said the two governments should act quickly to find a better way to screen electronic devices.
According to IATA's director general and CEO Alexandre de Juniac, "The current measures are not an acceptable long-term solution to whatever threat they are trying to mitigate. Even in the short term it is difficult to understand their effectiveness. And the commercial distortions they create are severe," he added.
IATA also said the way the ban was imposed was "woefully lacking" given there was no prior consultation and little coordination with the aviation industry.
Noting the need to maintain public confidence in the security of an industry that operates an average 100,000 flights a day, De Juniac wondered why the U.S. and the UK don't have a common list of airports; and how can laptops be secure in the cabin on some flights and not others, including flights departing from the same airport?
"Surely there must be a way to screen electronic equipment effectively? The current situation is not acceptable and will not maintain the all-important confidence of the industry or of travelers," he said.
Despite the only U.S. Customs & Border Patrol pre-clearance facility in the Middle East at Abu Dhabi, U.S.-bound passengers remain subject to the ban on Etihad's 45 flights a week to New York, Washington Dulles (right), Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
However In an anomaly cited by IATA, Abu Dhabi and Etihad are not subject to a similar ban on flights to London, Manchester and Edinburgh.
The U.S. has applied its ban to airlines originating in Egypt, Turkey, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Morocco, Qatar and the UAE, while the U.K. ban applies to flights from Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Tunisia.
De Juniac said both countries should work quickly with the airline industry to find a way to keep flying secure "without separating passengers from their personal electronics."
Meanwhile Qatar Airways is not waiting for government action by introducing a free laptop loaner for its business class passengers on flights to the U.S. for collection after boarding. The airline said it is also providing one hour of free Wi-Fi for all passengers and a special Wi-Fi package of US$5 to stay connected for the flight duration.