The controversial laptop ban from cabins on US-bound flights might be extended to 71 foreign airports, US Homeland Security Secretary says. However, the countries that accept to implement the new US airport security might skip the ban.

US Homeland Security is further strengthening anti-terrorism security requirements in aviation. Secretary John Kelly has announced that the controversial electronics ban, which currently applies to 10 airports mostly in Middle East, might be extended to additional 71 locations. However, countries that will meet new US airport security standards might be able to avoid the ban.

Kelly did not explain which countries – or (to be more precise) airports – the laptop ban would apply to. There are reports, that restrictions, like the current one, will apply to the Middle East and North Africa but this time European airports will also be affected.

This comes as little surprise, as there had been speculations about the laptop ban spreading to Europe. Speaking at a House Homeland Security Committee hearing, Kelly has pointed out that the terrorists “are trying every day to knock down one of our airplanes coming over here from—right now—Europe and the Middle East”, according to the Wall Street Journal.

US announced a ban on the transport of laptops and other electronics in March 2017. The ban currently applies to electronics that exceed the size of a regular cell phone, in hand luggage on flights to the United States from 10 airports in the Middle East and North Africa, including UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey’s airports.

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Recent reports suggest that terrorists can now create bombs so thin that they cannot be detected by the current X-ray screening that our carry-on bags undergo.
 

The reasoning for so called laptop-ban is based on Washington’s fear that al-Qaeda or ISIS terrorists could attempt to hide explosives in batteries and battery compartments. Following the US example, the ban of electronics in the cabin on inbound direct flights from certain countries is also implemented in UK and Australia, with New Zealand still being on the fence about such measures.

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The recent policies of the US and UK governments banning electronic devices in the cabin on inbound direct flights from Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East and North Africa are aimed to tackle the risk of terror attacks. However, it is not clear how effective the recent ban on laptops and large electronic devices in aircraft cabin baggage on flights from certain Middle Eastern airports to the US and UK will be.
 

However, not everyone is compelled with claims about bombs hidden in laptops. For instance, the European Aviation Safety Agency has expressed concern with the electronics ban on trans-Atlantic flights, because lithium batteries – considered as dangerous goods – pose a risk of accidental fire, which would be even more difficult to contain if the electronic device is in the cargo section.