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Europe fears expansion of inflight laptop ban


The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) secretary met with airline representatives today to discuss security threats to aviation, as the agency considers expanding a controversial ban on large electronics in aircraft cabins to include flights from other regions.

Anna-Kaisa Itkonen, a spokeswoman for the European Commission, said that European officials had sent a letter on Tuesday to their American counterparts.

Britain quickly followed suit with restrictions on a slightly different set of routes.

The airline industry source said Friday that the DHS was not receptive to suggested alternatives to an all-out ban.

USA administration officials said in March that intelligence suggests terrorists are able to hide explosives in laptops.

One issue that had been expected to come up at the meeting was how much advance notice airlines would get to impose additional restrictions, which some airline officials say would require hiring more staff.

It's unclear at this time which European countries would be included in the updated ban and whether it would apply to devices beyond laptops.

The European Union has demanded urgent talks with the United States over a possible extension to some European countries of a USA ban on airline passengers taking laptops into cabins, saying any security threats faced are common.

The afternoon meeting included high level executives from Delta Air Lines Inc, United Airlines Inc, American Airlines Group Inc and trade group Airlines for America, the sources said.

"This ban disrupts business travellers' ability to travel and remain productive - adding it to the list of disastrous, cumbersome airline security policies we've seen over the years, from restrictions on liquids to removing shoes at security checkpoints", he added.

US airlines say they still hope to have a say in how the policy is put into effect at airports to minimize inconvenience to passengers. "This included discussing threats to aviation".

The group voted to work with government officials to "minimize the impact on the traveling public by utilizing the risk-based solutions that are the core of our foundation as the safest aviation system in the world".

The current ban by the US imposes the restrictions on flights from Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Turkey and Morocco.

The United States could soon expand its laptop band to all flights coming from Europe.

She added that the European Union had no new information about a specific security concern.

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