No announcement Friday on laptop ban expansion


European governments alarmed at a proposed expansion of the ban on inflight laptops and tablets to passenger planes from the EU were holding urgent talks on Friday with the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Department of Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Elaine Duke is expected to lead the US delegation.

"Our phone call today proved once again the strong cooperation we have on these matters".

On Monday, the commission's chief spokesman, Margaritis Schinas, said the European Union would stress the need for cooperation and joint measures during the talks, although he was unable to confirm that Kelly would be attending.

This expanded ban builds on another directive that was put in place in March when both the USA and Britain banned laptops, tablets and other electronic devices from being hand-carried by passengers aboard direct inbound flights from 10 Muslim-majority countries. Britain also imposed laptop restrictions on some routes.

Passengers on flights covered by the restrictions are required to carry anything bigger than a smartphone in checked baggage.

US and European carriers are concerned about the logistics of checking large numbers of devices. The Trump administration could be preparing to expand the ban to include some European countries as well.

DHS spokesman David Lapan confirmed the call and said no announcement is planned for Friday on whether the US government will expand the ban.

Chief among the Europeans' concerns is the fire risk from placing hundreds of devices with lithium-ion batteries in the hold.

An EU spokeswoman said no decision had been made yet.

In statements issued yesterday, two travel trade groups, the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) and the US Travel Association, called for addressing genuine security risks but also urged the US Homeland Security department to be as flexible as possible to minimise disruptions.

The group's CEO, Joe Leader, noted that airlines have reduced service by more than 1 million long-haul seats in the 10 Middle Eastern and North African cities affected by the March policy.

Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly speaks about border security during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., May 2, 2017.

More than 350 flights a day travel from Europe to the U.S. But, it's not just the airlines that would be hit.

Even the possibility, as now widely rumored, of the USA extending its ban on laptops in cabins to include all flights from Europe to the United States is a disturbing development in an already bad situation.