Donald Trump’s administration decided to ban passengers flying by airlines from eight Muslim countries from carrying large electronic devices on board.
Mobile phones are still allowed, but everything bigger needs to be packed inside the luggage compartment. Passengers can’t bring their laptops, tablets, iPads and cameras in carry-on luggage. Instead, they will have to remain in checked luggage, safely stored out of reach during the flight.
The new rule is expected to be officially adopted by the US Department of Homeland Security this week. US Government has been considering the proposal for several months now, after Intelligence community reported that there is a slight increase of security risks.
The ban will affect eight to twelve non-American airlines, all of them belonging to Muslim countries in the Middle East and North Africa. According to an analysis carried out by Independent, airlines that will be affected by the ban include : Arik Air from Lagos, EgyptAir, Ethiopian Airlines, AirEmirates and Etihad from United Arab Emirates, Royal Air from Morocco, Qatar Airways, Kuwait Airways, Royal Jordanian Airlines, South African airways and Turkish Airlines. Two airlines from Saudi Arabia will also be included in the list.
Royal Jordanian Airlines is one of the rare airlines affected by the decision that have no objection to it. The airlines has already announced and informed its passengers that they are not allowed to being big electronic devices with them into the cabin.“Following instructions from the concerned US departments, we kindly inform our dearest passengers departing to and arriving from the United States that carrying any electronic or electrical device on board the flight cabins is strictly prohibited,” airline officials said during a press conference, adding that “prohibited devices, such as laptops, cameras, tablets, DVD players and portable video game consoles should be carried in the checked baggage only”.
One fact that caught everyone by surprise was the fact that two Saudi Arabian airlines were also included in the list, given the fact that the country maintains strong relations with the US and is considered privileged compared to other Muslim countries. Al Riyadh newspaper, close to the Saudi government, reported that civil aviation authority has been informed of the ban and that airlines affected by it will honor the decision.
Egyptian airline EgyptAir and two carriers from UAE – Emirates and Etihad told Reuters that they had not been advised of any new restrictions and that they are somewhat surprised by this decision.
According to a report made by CNN, an unnamed US official confirmed that the ban on electronics was relates to several intelligence reports and analysis. He explains that the US Intelligence community is closely monitoring Al Qaeda activities in the Arabian Peninsula and that a recent US Special forces raid in Yemen provided intelligence agencies with valuable information. Accoring to the report, a group of several Muslim extremists had a plan to place bombs on several Western-bound airliners.
The White House administration declined to comment. Homeland Security also provided little information, with its spokesman David Lapan explaining that the agency will provide further information in the following weeks.