U.S. lifts electronics ban on Middle Eastern airlines

Source: Xinhua| 2017-07-18 16:30:28|Editor: Song Lifang
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WASHINGTON, July 17 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced Monday that it has lifted the electronics ban on U.S.-bound flights of Saudi Arabian Airlines.

The Saudi Arabian carrier airline, also known as Saudia, was the last airline company to be exempt from the list of airlines under the U.S. electronics ban, which prohibited electronic devices larger than a mobile phone on carry-on bags for direct U.S.-bound flights from 10 major airports in eight countries, including Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar, Turkey, two from the United Arab Emirates and another two from Saudi Arabia.

Saudia and its main hub in Jeddah, King Abdelaziz International Airport, "have implemented the required initial enhanced security measures," the TSA wrote Monday on Twitter.

"Travelers from Jeddah are now allowed to bring devices in the cabin of U.S.-bound flights," the TSA added.

The original ban, which took effect in March, affected nine airlines, most of which were Middle Eastern carrier airlines, to address the potential threats of hidden explosives as the U.S. authorities alleged.

Last month, the U.S. officials introduced tighter security requirements for all airlines but it did not expand the controversial electronics ban, while alleviating restrictions on carriers and strengthening security measures.

The new measures are expected to impact over 300,000 passengers on about 2,000 commercial flights to the United States per day, on 180 airlines from 280 airports in 105 countries.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued Thursday a revised directive to clarify those measures, which were planned to come into operation this week, including enhanced passenger screening at foreign airports, increased security protocols around aircraft and in passenger areas and expanded canine screening.

It also warned of imposing new restrictions on electronics if airlines fail to upgrade their security measures.

Critics said the security requirements are a "fundamental shift away from the risk-based approach" which would make it "extremely difficult" for airlines and airports to meet the required deadlines because of the lack of available screening technology and resources.