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Mid-East laptop ban slowly being lifted

Airlines say the US-led laptop ban is slowly being lifted because of assurances of heightened airport security. The bans were put in place after 'Islamic State' started secreting bombs inside such devices.

An electronics ban on flights from Istanbul to the US is due to be lifted on July 5, Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reported on Tuesday.

Anadolu quoted Transportation Minister Ahmet Arslan as saying US officials would come to Istanbul's main Ataturk airport on Wednesday to carry out inspections on the security measures taken. These include highly sophisticated tomography devices for X-ray and ultrasound devices.

Turkish Airlines responded to the ban in May by offering laptops to business-class travelers.

Where it all started

In March, without warning the US banned laptops in cabins Laptop ban comes into effect on flights into the country which originated at 10 airports in eight foreign countries - Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and Turkey.

Not to be outdone soon afterwards Britain imposed a similar ban on laptops on direct flights originating from Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Turkey.

The bans were put into place after intelligence officials learned of efforts by so-called 'Islamic State' jihadists to produce a bomb that could be secreted inside such devices and taken aboard aircraft.

One after another

On Sunday the US lifted the ban on passengers taking laptops in cabins on flights from Abu Dhabi to the US, a spokesman for the US Department of Homeland Security said, adding that Etihad Airways had put in place the required tighter security measures. It was the first airliner to benefit from a removal of the ban.

Saudia Arabian Airlines expects its laptop ban to be lifted no later than July 19, according to their state news agency.

The Middle East's biggest carrier, Emirates, says it is also working to to reverse a ban on laptops and other electronics onboard its US-bound flights by implementing increased security measures in response to the US' demands.

Emirates' Dubai hub has grown into the world's busiest airport for international traffic. The airline said in a statement on Tuesday that it is "working hard in coordination with various aviation stakeholders and the local authorities" to put the heightened security measures and protocols in place and the ban behind it.

Watch video 01:35

Extending laptop ban on European flights to the US?

tr/jbh (Reuters, AFP, AP)

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