Thursday 14 November 2019

US lifts laptop ban on flights from Abu Dhabi

In-flight WiFi. Photo: Getty
In-flight WiFi. Photo: Getty
Up and away: Etihad Airlines

Natalie Paris

Travellers banned from carrying their laptops with them on flights into the US have been handed a reprieve – as long as they are flying from Abu Dhabi.

The US government lifted the ban affecting flights from the capital of the United Arab Emirates on Sunday after Etihad Airways put in place extra airport security measures that made it unnecessary.

Etihad is the only airline to fly direct from the city to the US, with 45 flights scheduled each week.

The ban on carrying large electronic items - including laptops, iPads and Kindles - is still in place for flights from nine other airports in Muslim-majority countries.

The UK's equivalent ban did not include the UAE and only applies to flights from Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia.

Etihad credited a facility at Abu Dhabi International Airport where passengers can clear US immigration before they land in the United States for "superior security advantages" that had allowed it to satisfy US requirements.

Up and away: Etihad Airlines
Up and away: Etihad Airlines
In-flight WiFi. Photo: Getty

The new measures had been inspected by officials from the US Transportation Security Administration before the ban was lifted.

The US ban includes airports at seven other countries: Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and Turkey.

Department of Homeland Security spokesman David Lapan said in a statement provided to Reuters that Etihad's efforts to implement extra security measures were a model for foreign and domestic airlines.

Other airlines flying from the Middle East, such as Emirates and Qatar Airlines, remain affected by the US ban.

Dubai-based Emirates said in April it was cutting capacity on five US routes because of reduced demand, first because of the travel ban imposed by President Donald Trump and now due to the laptop ban.

It is not clear whether restrictions affecting flights into the UK will be lifted should tighter security checks be imposed at any of the airports included in the UK ban.

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