Wednesday 12 December 2018

New screenings begin for passengers on US-bound flights

Emirates said it would conduct
Emirates said it would conduct "passenger pre-screening interviews" (AP)

New security screenings have started for all passengers on US-bound flights, with airlines worldwide questioning travellers about their trip and their luggage in the latest Trump administration decision affecting global travel.

However, confusion remains about the new regulations, which come at the end of a 120-day period after the US lifted a ban on laptops in plane cabins affecting 10 Middle Eastern cities.

The new regulations cover about 2,100 flights from around the world entering the US on any given day.

Some airlines said they had received permission to delay implementing the new rules until January.

At Dubai International Airport, the world's busiest for international travel, long-haul carrier Emirates began questioning passengers about their luggage, liquids they were carrying and where they were travelling from.

Passengers also had to have their carry-on bags searched, along with their electronics.

Emirates declined to discuss the new procedures in detail, but on Wednesday, it said it would conduct "passenger pre-screening interviews" for those travelling on US-bound flights as well as other checks on electronics.

Elsewhere, things did not appear to be going so smoothly. In China, an official in the Xiamen Airlines press office said the airlines received a "demand" about the new US regulations and planned "to take some security measures, including security safety interviews from today on".

"We're not going to interview all passengers, but focus on those with a certain degree of risk when checking the passengers' documents on the ground," he said.

An official with the Eastern Airlines publicity department said she saw media reports about security safety interviews but did not have immediate details on what her company was doing.

An official at the Beijing Airport press centre would only say: "We always strictly follow relevant regulations of the Civil Aviation Administration when conducting security checks."

An Air China official said the country's flag carrier would comply.

"We will meet the demands from the US side, but as for the detailed measures (we will take), it is inconvenient for us to release," he said.

South Korea's Transport Ministry said the US had agreed to delay implementing the new screening for the country's two biggest carriers, Korean Air Lines and Asiana Airlines, until next year on condition they deploy staff at boarding gates to monitor travellers.

Royal Jordanian, based in Amman, also said it would introduce the new procedures in mid-January.

Other airlines with US-bound flights at Seoul's Incheon International Airport brought in as many as seven extra staff on Thursday to question passengers under the new rules but there were no major delays, airport spokesman Lee Jung-hoon said.

Singapore Airlines passengers may be required to "undergo enhanced security measures" including inspection of personal electronic devices "as well as security questioning during check-in and boarding", the carrier said on its website.

Other carriers who announced the new regulations on Wednesday included Air France, Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific, the airlines of Germany's Lufthansa Group and EgyptAir.

US carriers are also affected by the new rules. Delta Air Lines said it was telling passengers travelling to the US to arrive at the airport at least three hours before their flight and allow extra time to get through security.


Press Association

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