United States ends laptop ban on Middle East Airlines

New York: The United States has ended the laptop ban on board US-bound flights from certain airports in the Middle East and North Africa. The US had banned passengers flying from the Middle East to carry laptops 4 months ago.

The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) confirmed the ban lift in a tweet on Wednesday. Riyadh International Airport was the last of 10 airports to be exempt from the ban, reports Al Jazeera.

The laptop ban was considered to be one of the most controversial restrictions by the Trump administration. The ban was put over concerns regarding the chances of hidden explosives in the electronic devices on board.

The list of the airlines which have got lifted the ban on them: Emirates, Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways, Turkish Airlines, Saudi Arabian Airlines, Royal Jordanian, Kuwait Airways, EgyptAir and Royal Air Maroc. They are the only carriers to fly directly to the US from the region.

However, the ban on six Muslim-majority countries remains in place, which are Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.

“The aviation industry has been trying to come together with a united message to governments and stakeholders about regulation and supporting the industry,” said Will Horton, senior analyst at Australian aviation consultancy CAPA.

Leading industry group the International Air Transport Association (IATA) had criticized the laptop ban and called it ineffective. The experts argued that fighters could travel to the US via Europe or elsewhere where the restrictions didn’t apply.

US officials had visited 10 airports in Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, and Turkey for three weeks to confirm new security measures announced last month were being implemented.

The new security measures will include enhanced passenger screening at foreign airports, increased security protocols around aircraft and in passenger areas and expanded canine screening.