Emi­rates, Turk­ish try­ing to join Eti­had off lap­top ban

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

ABU DHABI: At Abu Dhabi In­ter­na­tional Air­port, trav­el­ers bound for the United States yes­ter­day en­joyed some­thing many oth­ers fly­ing out of the Mid­dle East can’t - walk­ing onto an air­plane with their lap­top. But what has changed in Abu Dhabi re­mains un­clear as the lap­top ban still af­fects nine other re­gional air­ports, in­clud­ing the world’s busiest for in­ter­na­tional travel in nearby Dubai. That may change to­day. Both Dubai-based Emi­rates and Turk­ish Air­lines in Is­tan­bul will host Amer­i­can of­fi­cials to show they have com­plied with mea­sures to be ex­empted from the ban as well, said David La­pan, a spokesman for the Depart­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity.

At the Abu Dhabi air­port, the home of the UAE’s state car­rier Eti­had, of­fi­cials be­lieve they’ll see even more cus­tomers in the com­ing weeks as peo­ple learn they can keep their lap­tops and tablets on US-bound flights. Eti­had op­er­ates 45 flights a week be­tween the UAE’s cap­i­tal and six cities in the US. Asked about what changed, the air­port’s act­ing chief op­er­a­tions of­fi­cer Ahmed Al-Shamsi gave no de­tails when he spoke with AP. La­pan pre­vi­ously said the air­port had new pro­ce­dures, “both seen and un­seen,” to pro­tect flights.

“There was an as­sess­ment by the US Home­land Se­cu­rity’s Trans­porta­tion Se­cu­rity Ad­min­is­tra­tion, they’re the ones who pass cer­tain laws that air­ports have to fol­low,” Shamsi said. “Based on th­ese rules and how well air­ports fol­low them, they are the ones who de­cide when to lift the ban.” Abu Dhabi’s air­port al­ready has a US Cus­toms and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion fa­cil­ity that al­lows pas­sen­gers to clear screen­ing they’d oth­er­wise have to go through when land­ing in Amer­ica. That means pas­sen­gers can walk right out of the air­port on ar­rival.

The US lap­top ban, first an­nounced in March as a se­cu­rity mea­sure, now ap­plies to non­stop US-bound flights from nine in­ter­na­tional air­ports in Am­man, Jor­dan; Kuwait City; Cairo; Is­tan­bul; Jed­dah and Riyadh, Saudi Ara­bia; Casablanca, Morocco; Doha, Qatar; and Dubai. In May, US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump shared highly clas­si­fied in­tel­li­gence about the Is­lamic State group want­ing to use lap­tops to tar­get air­craft with se­nior Rus­sian of­fi­cials vis­it­ing the White House.

In Is­tan­bul, Turk­ish Air­lines CEO Bi­lal Eksi wrote on Twit­ter that he be­lieved the lap­top ban there would end as soon as to­day. For Emi­rates, its Dubai hub has grown into the world’s busiest air­port for in­ter­na­tional traf­fic, in large part thanks to the long-haul car­rier’s ex­pan­sion. Since the lap­top ban, Emi­rates had been of­fer­ing some pas­sen­gers lap­tops they can use in flight. Emi­rates said in a state­ment on Tues­day it is “work­ing hard in co­or­di­na­tion with var­i­ous avi­a­tion stake­hold­ers and the lo­cal au­thor­i­ties” to put the height­ened se­cu­rity mea­sures and pro­to­cols in place. It of­fered no specifics on what Amer­i­can au­thor­i­ties wanted.

“We hope that we will re­ceive val­i­da­tion that all mea­sures have been suc­cess­fully im­ple­mented so that the elec­tron­ics ban can be lifted as soon as pos­si­ble for our US flights,” the air­line said. The lap­top ban, as well as a Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion travel ban on six pre­dom­i­nantly Mus­lim na­tions, has hurt Gulf car­ri­ers. Emi­rates has slashed 20 per­cent of its flights to Amer­ica in the wake of those de­ci­sions.

— AP

ABU DHABI: Ahmed Al-Shamsi, the act­ing chief op­er­a­tions of­fi­cer at Abu Dhabi In­ter­na­tional Air­port, speaks to AP yes­ter­day.

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