Middle EastWorld

Abu Dhabi airport now exempt from US ban on laptops

DUBAI: The capital of the United Arab Emirates became the first city to be exempt from a US ban on laptop computers being in airplane cabins, the country’s flag carrier said yesterday. Long-haul airline Etihad said it welcomed the decision by the US Department of Homeland Security, which comes “subject to enhanced security measures” at Abu Dhabi International Airport. That airport already has a US Customs and Border Protection facility that allows passengers to clear screening they’d otherwise have to go through when landing in America.

Etihad did not elaborate on what additional security measures passengers would face to be allowed to have their laptops, tablets and other electronics with them on their flights. Neither Abu Dhabi International Airport nor Homeland Security immediately responded to a request for comment. The US ban, first announced in March, now applies to nonstop US-bound flights from nine international airports in Amman, Kuwait, Cairo, Istanbul, Jeddah, Riyadh, Casablanca, Doha and Dubai.
In late May, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said he was considering banning laptops from the passenger cabins of all international flights to and from the United States. Kelly’s comments came after US President Donald Trump shared highly classified intelligence about the Islamic State group wanting to use laptops to target aircraft with senior Russian officials visiting the White House.

The laptop ban, as well as a Trump administration travel ban on six predominantly Muslim nations, has hurt Gulf long-haul carriers. Emirates, the long-haul carrier based in Dubai, has slashed 20 percent of its flights to America in the wake of those decisions. The airline also has been trying to get the ban lifted for its direct flights to the US. It did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Dubai International Airport, Emirates’ home, is the world’s busiest international air travel hub. Meanwhile, long-haul carrier Qatar Airways has been hurt amid a diplomatic dispute with Arab nations that has seen its own routes in the region cut off. – AP


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