Laptop ban on flights to US 'likely' to expand

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"If (and extended ban) leads to a reduction in business travel it could lead to a decrease in revenues".

US and European officials will discuss Wednesday plans to broaden a USA ban on in-flight laptops and tablets to include planes from Europe.

Concerns have also been raised about fire hazards from storing so many laptops with Lithium ion batteries in cargo hulls on planes.

United States authorities discussed an in-cabin laptop ban on transatlantic flights from the EU following a meeting with their European counterparts in Brussels. The EU-U.S. meeting on Wednesday will involve an "information exchange", European Security Commissioner Julian King said in Strasbourg.

The U.S.is considering expansion of a ban on laptops in airliner cabins on flights not only from Europe but from other regions as well, as objections against any broader restrictions mounted.

Experts say a bomb in the cabin would be easier to make and require less explosive force than one in the cargo hold. In addition, baggage in cargo usually goes through a more sophisticated screening process than carry-on bags. The official said Wednesday's meeting would be a "marathon" session. He spoke on condition of anonymity to release details of the sensitive negotiations. DHS spokesman David Lapan said yesterday, however, that authorities aren't looking "solely" at Europe.

The US Department of Homeland Security sparked deep concern in Europe, last week, when it said it would soon decide on extending to European airlines a ban on eight mostly Muslim countries.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is "well aware" of views from airlines, airports, other nations and other stakeholders, Lapan said.

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The airlines still hope to have a say in how the policy is put into effect at airports to minimize inconvenience to passengers. The U.S.in March imposed a ban imposed on electronic devices larger than mobile phones - including tablets, laptops and DVD players - in cabins on flights from 10 airports in the Middle East and North Africa.

Emirates, the Middle East's largest airline, this month cited the ban on electronics as one of the reasons for an 80 percent drop in profits a year ago.

Lapan said talks would consider the "scale and scope" of what the laptop ban might entail.

The head of the International Air Transport Association said recently that the electronics ban is not an acceptable or effective long-term solution to security threats, and said the commercial impact is severe.

Earlier Wednesday, airline industry lobby group IATA warned the ban could cost passengers as much as US$1 billion in extra fees.

The initial ban has hit Middle Eastern airlines hardest.

Talks on a proposed US ban on laptops and tablets in flights from Europe ended Wednesday with no ban - and a promise of more talks and better intelligence sharing.

"We have written to European Union authorities to indicate that we are concerned about this USA ban on electronic devices, and we think it could put an additional cost of more than US$1 billion on passengers", he added.

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