US lifts laptop ban on flights from Istanbul: airline

The United States lifted Wednesday a ban on carrying large electronic devices such as laptops in the cabin of US-bound flights from Turkey’s main international airport, Turkish Airlines and local media reported.

“Dear Passengers, #WelcomeOnBoard to our US-bound flight. Please fasten your seatbelts and enjoy your own electronic devices,” Turkish Airlines, the country’s flag carrier, said on Twitter late Tuesday.

The ban’s lifting comes after Turkey began using sophisticated tomography imaging devices for X-ray and ultrasound screening at Istanbul’s Ataturk International Airport.

Ataturk is the only airport in Turkey with direct flights to the United States.

The first Turkish Airlines flight affected by the ban’s removal was its 6.45am (0345 GMT) flight for New York’s John F Kennedy International Airport, the Dogan news agency reported.

In March, Washington banned all electronic devices larger than a mobile phone on direct flights to the US from 10 airports in Turkey, the Middle East and North Africa, allowing them to be transported only in checked luggage.

The ban was imposed after intelligence officials learned of efforts by the Islamic State group to produce a bomb that could be hidden inside electronic devices.

Britain also introduced a ban on laptops, on direct flights originating from Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Turkey.

US and British officials inspected Ataturk airport Tuesday, Dogan reported, adding that Turkey expected Britain to lift its ban on Thursday.

But in a Twitter post, Turkish Airlines chief executive Bilal Eksi said only that he expected Britain to lift the ban “shortly”, without giving further details.

The first airline to benefit from a removal of the ban was Etihad Airways of the United Arab Emirates on Sunday.