The Trump administration is considering extending a ban on laptops in aircraft cabins to all flights to the US from anywhere in the world, reports the Financial Times.
US homeland security officials who met European commissioners in Brussels this week said that if Washington does extend its ban on large electronic devices, Europe would not be singled out and restrictions would apply to all flights to the US.
David Lapan, a spokesperson for homeland security, told FT that secretary John Kelly was considering a worldwide extension of the US ban, though no decision had yet been taken.
Under the proposed restrictions, passengers would be forbidden from carrying electronic items larger than a mobile phone into an aircraft cabin as hand luggage. The ban is already in force at nine Middle Eastern airlines which fly to the US.
According to FT, the chief executive of the International Air Transport Association, the airline lobby group, has estimated that extending the ban to Europe alone would cost passengers $1bn through longer travel times and lost productivity.
The ban also threatens to hit demand for flights to the US, with many companies forbidding employees from stowing laptops in the hold because of the risk of sensitive information being stolen.
One European airline official said the impact of an extended ban would be huge. “It will definitely cause cancellations — especially in the first few weeks as people adapt to the new rules. It also might impact on travel patterns — people might not fly so much and instead opt for a video call,” the official said.
Emirates, the largest Gulf carrier, last week reported an 82 per cent fall in annual profits, which it blamed in part on the laptop ban and a resulting reduction in its flights to the US. In April, the airline announced it was cutting the number of US-bound flights because of weak demand following introduction of the measure.
Why can't these decisions be made at the airline level?
The Trump administration is filled with a bunch of authoritarians.
Things are only going to get worse.