Back in March, the U.S. Transportation Department imposed a ban that prohibited electronic devices from airline cabins on some flights originating in Middle Eastern countries. The news was not received well by critics, who said that the new rule would put a strain on U.S. relations with foreign nations and business interests.
But just last month, the Department of Homeland Security announced new security measures for commercial flights coming to the U.S., and among the changes was a proposed rollback of the electronics ban. Now, it seems that rollback is just about complete.
According to a Reuters report, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) lifted the electronics ban for passengers traveling on Saudi Arabian Airlines on Monday, the last carrier that was still affected by the restrictions.
With the lifting of the ban from King Abdulaziz International Airport, Saudi Arabian Airlines main hub, the only airport still affected by the ban is King Khalid International Airport. However, TSA officials said that they will be visiting that location “later this week to confirm compliance there as well.”
Complying with new security measures
Regarding the new security measures it released in June, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security also issued a revised directive to all airlines that will be going into effect later this week on July 19.
The directive explains in more detail what steps airlines will have to take to avoid new restrictions on laptops in cabins. These include increased security protocols around aircraft and in passenger areas, expanded canine screening, closer inspection of electronic devices, and additional checkpoints where travelers will need to be cleared before departure. Airlines also have until July 19 to put in place increased explosive trace detection screening.
Airline groups have criticized the new requirements, saying that they will be “extremely difficult” to implement and that the deadlines are too restrictive because of a “lack of availability of screening equipment technology and resources.” But TSA spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein says the new requirements are necessary for addressing future threats and keeping electronics available on flights.
“As we look to stay ahead of the evolving threats, we’ll be working with global aviation stakeholders to expand security measures even further,” she said in a statement, adding that recent world events have led to a “web of threats to commercial aviation.”