US ends lap­top ban on Mid­dle East car­ri­ers

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD -

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The United States has ended a four month ban on pas­sen­gers car­ry­ing lap­tops on­board US bound flights from cer­tain air­ports in the Mid­dle East and North Africa, bring­ing to an end one of the con­tro­ver­sial travel re­stric­tions im­posed by Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Riyadh’s King Khalid In­ter­na­tional Air­port was the last of 10 air­ports to be ex­empted from the ban, the US De­part­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity con­firmed in a tweet on Wednes­day.

Mid­dle East car­ri­ers have blamed Trump’s travel re­stric­tions, which in­clude ban­ning ci­ti­zens of some Mus­lim ma­jor­ity coun­tries from vis­it­ing the US, for a down­turn in de­mand on US routes.

In March, Wash­ing­ton banned large elec­tron­ics in cab­ins on flights from 10 air­ports in the re­gion over con­cerns that ex­plo­sives could be con­cealed in the de­vices taken on­board air­craft.

The ban has been lifted on the nine air­lines af­fected — Emirates, Eti­had Air­ways, Qatar Air­ways, Turk­ish Air- lines, Saudi Ara­bian Air­lines, Royal Jor­da­nian, Kuwait Air­ways, Egyp­tAir and Royal Air Maroc — which are the only car­ri­ers to fly di­rect to the US from the re­gion.

A ban on ci­ti­zens of six Mus­lim-ma­jor­ity coun­tries — Iran, Libya, So­ma­lia, Su­dan, Syria, and Ye­men — re­mains in place though has been lim­ited af­ter sev­eral US court hear­ings chal­lenged the re­stric­tions.

“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.

“That was dealt a first blow from the travel ban and then a sec­ond from the large elec­tron­ics ban.”

Lead­ing in­dus­try group the In­ter­na­tional Air Trans­port As­so­ci­a­tion crit­i­cized the lap­top ban as in­ef­fec­tive, as se­cu­rity ex­perts ar­gued that mil­i­tants could travel to the United States via Europe or else­where where the re­stric­tions didn’t ap­ply.

Don­ald Trump Jr, Jared Kush­ner and former Trump cam­paign man­ager Paul Manafort are sched­uled to ap­pear be­fore US Se­nate com­mit­tees next week. Their hear­ings are part of the on­go­ing probes into an al­leged col­lu­sion be­tween the Rus­sian gov­ern­ment and the Trump cam­paign in the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion last year.

Kush­ner, son-in-law of US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and a

YASSER AL-ZAYYAT / AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A man puts his lap­top in­side his suit­case at Kuwait In­ter­na­tional Air­port in Kuwait City in March be­fore board­ing a flight to the United States.

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