‘No plans’ to introduce electronic device ban on Irish flights

Ban on carrying laptops and tablets in cabin on flights into UK and US from certain countries announced on Tuesday

File photograph from January 2015 of  a  Qatar Airways Airbus A350 approaching  the gate at the airport in Frankfurt, Germany. Airline passengers travelling to the US and UK from a number of Middle Eastern and north African countries will not be allowed to carry such devices under new counter-terrorism measures announced on Tuesday. Photograph: Michael Probst/AP Photo

File photograph from January 2015 of a Qatar Airways Airbus A350 approaching the gate at the airport in Frankfurt, Germany. Airline passengers travelling to the US and UK from a number of Middle Eastern and north African countries will not be allowed to carry such devices under new counter-terrorism measures announced on Tuesday. Photograph: Michael Probst/AP Photo

 

There are no plans to introduce a ban on carrying large electronic devices in the main cabin on flights into Ireland from Middle Eastern and north African countries.

“Security measures at Irish airports have not changed nor are they expected to change in the near future,”according to a spokesman for the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport.

Airline passengers travelling to the US and UK from a number of Middle Eastern and north African countries will not be allowed to carry such devices under new counter-terrorism measures announced on Tuesday.

The US Transportation Security Administration told nine airlines that operate direct flights to America that they had four days to implement the new rule.

The measure will affect flights departing from 10 airports in eight countries: Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Turkey, Egypt and Morocco.

The UK followed suit, saying it too would immediately impose similar device restrictions, but it added flights from Tunisia and Lebanon to its list, and excluded those from the UAE, Kuwait and Qatar.

“We face a constantly evolving threat from terrorism and must respond accordingly to ensure the protection of the public against those who would do us harm,” the British government said on Tuesday.

France’s aviation authority said it was conducting a “risk assessment”, but the government had yet to decide how to proceed. Canada said it would make a statement on restrictions later on Tuesday.

The steps taken by the US mark a fresh attempt to tighten security after President Donald Trump vowed to do more to tackle terrorism. It comes two weeks after he issued a revised travel ban that – before it was blocked by the courts - temporarily barred citizens of six largely Muslim nations from entering America.

Passengers flying to the US from the eight countries will have to put laptop computers and other big devices, such as tablets and cameras, in their checked luggage under the measure.

Biggest impact

The new US measures will hit the operations of the big three Gulf airlines that have become the most important force in long-haul aviation over the past two decades and which have extensive operations between the US and their international hubs in the Gulf. All rely heavily on passengers who transfer between points in Asia, Africa and the Middle East to reach countries in the west, including the US.

The biggest impact will be felt by Emirates, which operates 119 weekly flights between Dubai and US destinations including New York and Los Angeles. Qatar Airways, which operates between its Doha hub and the US, and Etihad, which flies Airbus A380 superjumbos twice a day between Abu Dhabi and New York, will also be hit.

The rule also affects Saudi Arabian Airlines, Royal Jordanian Airlines, Kuwait Airways, Turkish Airlines, EgyptAir and Royal Air Maroc. US airlines do not operate direct flights from the eight countries to the US.

The UK ban affects 14 airlines – both foreign and domestic – including British Airways, EasyJet and Turkish Airlines.

“We think these steps are necessary and proportionate,” the UK government said. “We have spoken closely with the US [about which countries they have included] but we have each taken our own decisions on this.”

Additional reporting: The Financial Times