Wednesday 20 September 2017

Why Ireland won't follow UK and US with laptop ban on flights

Passengers will not be allowed to use laptops. Photo: PA
Passengers will not be allowed to use laptops. Photo: PA

Ryan Nugent in Dublin

Irish airports will not ban passengers travelling from middle eastern and north African countries from carrying laptops or tablets as cabin luggage - despite a new security crackdown in the UK and US amid fears of an al Qa'ida terrorist threat.

Airline passengers travelling into the UK from Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia will not be allowed to carry laptops, tablets or other large electronic devices on board planes.

Some 2.4 million passengers a year flying to the UK on airlines including British Airways, Thomson, Thomas Cook and easyJet will have to store electronic devices larger than a phone in their hold luggage, despite concerns they could be stolen or damaged.

The British government is introducing the ban after a similar move in the US, where officials revealed "evaluated intelligence" showed that terrorists are "aggressively pursuing innovative measures" to carry out attacks with devices such as laptop bombs.

However, a spokesman for the Department of Transport said Ireland had no plans to follow suit and had to abide by EU regulations.

"Aviation security in Ireland is governed primarily by EU rules and regulations and Ireland complies with the EU's common security standards," a spokesman said. "Security measures at Irish airports have not changed nor are they expected to change in the near future."

However, a spokesman for the Irish Aviation Authority said security measures were constantly under review.

"The Irish Aviation Authority has noted the directive issued by US authorities with regard to aviation security and the carriage of certain devices to the United States of America from certain other states," he said.

"The Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport is responsible for aviation security policy and the IAA, who has responsibility for monitoring of compliance with the European and national aviation security regulations, will ensure the implementation of any measures directed by them.

"The US directive does not affect any Irish airports."

A spokesman for Downing Street in the UK said airlines affected by this ban would be given a number of days to implement the strict new regulations.

The US ban is expected from Friday at 7am GMT.

The restrictions will cover all electronic devices more than 16cm long, 9.3cm wide and 1.5cm deep. The ban will hit tablets, laptops, handheld games consoles, e-readers such as Kindles and portable DVD players.

Insurers warned last night that laptops and tablets were not typically covered by policies for loss, damage or theft if placed in a hold.

Irish Independent

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