BRUSSELS May 11 The European Union has demanded
urgent talks with the United States over a possible extension of
a ban on passengers taking laptops into the cabins of commercial
aircraft to include some European countries, saying any threats
faced are common.
The Trump administration is likely to extend the ban already
applicable to flights originating from 10 airports including in
the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey because of fears that a
concealed bomb could be installed in electronic devices taken
onto aircraft, officials said.
In a letter to John Kelly, Secretary of Homeland Security,
and Elaine Chao, U.S. Secretary of Transportation, and seen by
Reuters, the EU executive said it was important that information
concerning possible threats involving EU airports be shared.
"We therefore reiterate our willingness to pursue
constructive dialogue and we propose that meetings are held as a
matter of urgency, both at political and technical level, to
jointly assess the risk and review possible common measures,"
wrote Violeta Bulc, EU Transport Commissioner, and Dimitris
Avramopoulos, Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and
While no decision has yet been taken, any restrictions could
hit major European carriers such as Lufthansa, British
Airways, Air France-KLM and industry sources
have said airlines and airports have already been working on
possible contingency measures.
The United States imposed the ban in March and was quickly
followed by Britain which imposed restrictions on a slightly
different set of routes.
European aviation security experts are meeting in Brussels
on Thursday to consider possible responses to any extension of
the ban. Two EU officials said the discussions had so far
concentrated on maintaining a common front.
The EU Ambassador to the United States will meet with Kelly
in the coming days to discuss the issue, one of the officials
"It is in our common interest that we work closely together
to address developing threats in aviation, in advance of any
potential applications of new security measures to air carriers
operating from the EU to the U.S.," the Commissioners wrote.
Malaysia Airlines CEO Peter Bellew told Reuters on the
sidelines of a CAPA Centre for aviation conference near Dublin
that an extension of the laptop ban would be a "pity" and make
it more difficult for people to travel.
"I do think it is going to have a fundamental impact on
travel to north America and I don't think that is going to go
away quickly," Bellew said.
European regulators have warned placing what could be
potentially hundreds of devices in the hold on long-haul flights
could compromise safety by increasing the risk of fire from
poorly deactivated lithium-ion batteries.
(Additional reporting by Conor Humphries in Dublin and Victoria
Bryan in Berlin, editing by David Evans)