Europe, Middle East and Africa all targeted under expanded laptop ban.
An extended version of the current electronics ban could apply inbound flights from as many as 71 airports, primarily in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Reuters reports that the new findings came from testimony by Department of Homeland Security director John Kelly to the House Committee on Homeland Security on Wednesday, June 7.
In prepared and oral comments, Secretary Kelly referred to the recent terrorist attacks in London and Manchester as “horrific reminders of the dangers we face globally.” During the question and answer phase of the hearing, he elaborated that an expansion of the large electronics ban could spread, depending on international security standards. The secretary and other Homeland Security officials did not go on to elaborate which airports could be facing additional scrutiny.
“We are looking right now at an additional 71 airports,” Secretary Kelly said, according to Reuters. “We’re also looking at ways that we think we can mitigate the threat.”
The secretary also announced that Homeland Security officials will present a new security standard during a conference in Malta later this month. The goal is to have additional countries agree to the minimum standards in order to waive the large electronics ban from their airports. Those who do not agree to the new standards could be subject to the sanctions.
The United States first instituted a large electronics bans in March, disallowing electronics larger than a smartphone aboard commercial flights departing 10 airports in the Middle East and North Africa. The United Kingdom followed suit shortly afterwards, with additional discussion following about ban expansion.
While officials call the plan a safeguard for flights bound to the United States, others say that keeping lithium-ion batteries in an aircraft cargo hold can be a recipe for disaster. In May, a laptop fire aboard a JetBlue flight demonstrated the worst-case scenario, with experts calling for laptops and other large electronics to remain in the main cabin.