John Kelly, the United States Secretary of Homeland Security, has made an announcement that he “might” outlaw laptops from carry-on luggage on all arriving international flights into the country.
Kelly’s new hypothetical measure would be taken in the name of safety. Kelly cited the danger of terrorists using in-flight electronics in attacks.
“It is a real sophisticated threat, and I’ll reserve that decision until we see where it’s going,” he said during a Fox News Sunday interview earlier today.
Kelly stressed that the laptop decision was just one strategic point in the Department of Homeland Security’s plan to improve airline safety and fight the threat of terrorism internationally.
“We’re still following the intelligence. The very, very good news is we are working with friends and partners around the world.”
He went on to say, “We are going to raise the bar – generally speaking – for aviation security.”
The announcement does not come as a surprise to the airlines, who have been preparing for such a decision to be made. The industries affected by a laptop ban have been discussing how to respond to a possible Trump administration ban.
The still-theoretical ban would cover laptops, tablets and other larger electronic devices that could potentially be used as shells to smuggle explosives onto airplanes. The Department of Homeland Security has already implemented similar restrictions on incoming flights to the United States from multiple Middle Eastern countries.
On May 17, European and American officials held a meeting in Brussels to hash out a potential Trump ban on large electronics on international flights. The tentative conclusion was that such a ban would not occur anytime soon. A spokesman went so far as to say that the measure was “off the table.”
The measure was apparently not off the table. The ban on “electronics larger than a smartphone” from eight Muslim-majority countries looks like it’s in the pipeline for expansion.
The Trump administration has defended the controversial ban by citing US intelligence reports that ISIS is developing bombs small enough to be hidden in consumer electronics.
The airline industry has responded by claiming that an expanded ban would lead to higher costs, as well as new, unforeseen security risks. According to the International Air Transport Association, the expanded ban would cost passengers an estimated $1.1 billion annually, due to travel delays and productivity loss. The IATA also estimates that the ban would impact up to 390 flights every day, as opposed to 350 a week, the current number.