July 6, 2017 / 3:29 AM / 16 days ago

Qatar Airways joins major MidEast rivals in lifting laptop ban on US flights

FILE PHOTO: Baggage and a laptop are scanned using the Transport Security Administration's new Automated Screening Lane technology at Terminal 4 of JFK airport in New York City, U.S., May 17, 2017.Joe Penney

DUBLIN/DUBAI (Reuters) - Qatar Airways said on Thursday passengers travelling to the United States can now carry their laptops and other large electronics on board, ending a three month in-cabin ban on devices for the Doha-based airline.

Qatar Airways joins Emirates, Turkish Airlines and Etihad Airways, which have also announced this week a lifting of the ban on their U.S. flights.

In March, the United States imposed the ban on direct flights originating at 10 airports in eight countries - Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and Turkey - to address fears that bombs could be concealed in electronic devices taken aboard aircraft.

Qatar Airways said in a statement on Thursday the ban had been lifted after the airline and its hub airport Hamad International met with new U.S. security requirements.

The United States announced on June 29 enhanced security measures for flights to the country which require additional time to screen passengers and personal electronic devices for possible explosives.

Qatar Airways Chief Executive Akbar al-Baker told reporters in Dublin the airline was found to be in compliance with the "new draconian requirements" after an audit over the previous two days.

U.S. transport officials were due to visit Qatar Airways, Emirates and Turkish Airlines on July 5 to check the latest measures were in place, a spokesman for the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) told Reuters on Wednesday.

TSA did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday on the lifting of the ban affecting Qatar Airways.

The new U.S. measures, which take effect within three weeks of the announcement, will affect around 325,000 passengers a day travelling on 180 airlines from 280 airports around the world, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Airlines that fail to meet the new security requirements could still face in-cabin electronics restrictions.

Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia) has said it expects the ban to be lifted on flights from Jeddah and Riyadh by July 19.

Royal Air Maroc also believes it can have the ban lifted on Casablanca's Mohammed V International Airport by July 19, a senior official from the state-owned airline told Reuters.

Other airlines affected by the ban include Royal Jordanian, Kuwait Airways and EgyptAir.

Reporting by Conor Humphries in Dublin, Alexander Cornwell and Aziz El Yaakoubi in Dubai; Editing by Joseph Radford and Mark Potter

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