Laptop ban led to 20-percent drop in flights for one Mideast airline

Some of the Middle Eastern airlines barred from having laptops and other electronics in their main cabins have said their rules are returning to normal after receiving approval from US agencies.

A commercial airliner flies over the Kuwait City on January 11, 2017, after taking off from Kuwait’s International Airport.

Turkish Airlines and Emirates Airlines both announced the end of their respective laptop bans yesterday. That follows long-haul carrier Etihad Airlines, which told The Associated Press on Sunday it will no longer bar larger electronics on its flights.

Etihad runs 45 flights a week from Abu Dhabi to six US cities. Emirates flies to 12 US cities from Dubai International, the world’s busiest airport. The AP reports that Emirates cut 20 percent of its US flights following the imposition of the laptop ban.

Citing a Transportation Security Administration spokesperson, The New York Times reports that Qatar Airways has also initiated a process to have its ban lifted. TSA is expected to visit Emirates, Turkish, and Qatar airlines today.

Reuters and the BBC report that Saudia, the flagship carrier for Saudi Arabia, will allow electronics on flights beginning July 19.

The US Homeland Security chief said last week his department will insist on “enhanced security measures” for US-bound flights around the world, although it gave very little detail about the new measures, which will be “both seen and unseen.” Going forward, airports and airlines that aren’t in compliance may continue to be subjected to electronics bans or be denied clearance to fly to the US at all.

So what are the new security measures that US officials are insisting on? Citing an unnamed source at Qatar Airways, the Times reports that TSA wants all US-bound passengers be subject to explosive trace detection screening, whether their bags go in the main cabin or in the hold.

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