US may expand airline electronics ban beyond Middle East

Washington is considering broadening the restrictions of electronic devices on flights to the United States beyond the current ban on several Middle Eastern countries, according to an official.

US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) spokesman David Lapan told reporters on Tuesday expanding the ban is being considered.

“The secretary has alluded to the fact that it is likely to be expanded, but a decision hasn’t been made,” he said, referring to Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly. Kelly previously said the ban is “likely” to be expanded.

“There is a threat out there. We are engaged in a discussion about the threat” before making a decision, Lapan added.

Currently, the restriction affects flights to the US from ten international airports in the Middle East. Those airports include the cities of Cairo, Egypt; Amman, Jordan; Kuwait City, Kuwait; Casablanca, Morocco; Doha, Qatar; Riyadh and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; Istanbul, Turkey; and Abu Dhabi and Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

“Implementing additional security measures enhances our ability to mitigate further attempts against the overseas aviation industry,” DHS said on its website in April.

Various media reports have claimed the ban may not be just about security, but help to major US airlines American, Delta, and United. The big three have been complaining about unfair competition from fast-growing Middle East-based rivals — Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar Airways, which they have accused of state backing.

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