The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) are implementing new restrictions on passenger-carried electronic devices on flights to the United States from 10 international airports in the Middle East, North Africa and Europe. On U.S.-bound flights from the 10 airports, all personal electronic devices larger than a cell phone or smart phone must be placed in checked baggage, according to a fact sheet posted early Tuesday on the DHS website.
“Evaluated intelligence indicates that terrorist groups continue to target commercial aviation, to include smuggling explosive devices in various consumer items,” DHS said in a set of questions and answers posted on its website. “Based on this trend, the [TSA], in consultation with relevant departments and agencies, has determined it is prudent to enhance security, to include airport security procedures for passengers at certain last point-of-departure airports to the United States. … This security enhancement will be implemented through a security directive (SD)/emergency amendment (EA) process, which includes industry notification, to affected air carriers that will implement the requirements.”
The new restrictions will remain in place until the threat changes, DHS said.
In a statement released later Tuesday morning, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said that a number of its airline members have been contacted by TSA with regard to the new restrictions. IATA said it was working with TSA and its members to “achieve greater clarity” on the requirements.
“Safety and security is the top priority of everyone involved in aviation,” IATA said. “Airlines comply with government requirements and they can do this most effectively when measures are well coordinated.”
The 10 affected airports are: Queen Alia International Airport (Amman, Jordan), Cairo International Airport (Cairo), Ataturk International Airport (Istanbul, Turkey), King Abdul-Aziz International Airport (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia), King Khalid International Airport (Riyadh, Saudi Arabia), Kuwait International Airport (Kuwait City, Kuwait), Mohammed V Airport (Casablanca, Morocco), Hamad International Airport (Doha, Qatar), Dubai International Airport (Dubai, United Arab Emirates), and Abu Dhabi International Airport (Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates).
Many of the electronic devices that now will be carried in checked baggage on affected flights are powered by lithium batteries. Current IATA guidance on dangerous goods says that it is acceptable to carry lithium batteries in checked baggage if the batteries are installed in equipment, as long as they have a watt-hour rating of 160 or less. Spare batteries, however, may not be placed in checked baggage, according to IATA. Any lithium battery of more than 160 watt-hours must presented and carried as cargo in accordance with IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations.
In a related development, the United Kingdom on Tuesday announced a carry-on ban on laptops on passenger flights from Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia, according to BBC.com