US tells airlines to boost screening, but wider laptop ban on hold | News | DW | 28.06.2017
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US tells airlines to boost screening, but wider laptop ban on hold

The US Department of Homeland Security has said airlines and airports would be required to introduce enhanced screening methods - both of people and luggage. Those that don't comply could face tough sanctions.

US Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said changes were necessary because of terrorists' interests in targeting the aviation sector. 

"Make no mistake: our enemies are constantly working to find new methods for disguising explosives, recruiting insiders, and hijacking aircraft," Kelly said.

"We cannot play international whack-a-mole with each new threat. Instead, we must put in place new measures across the board to keep the traveling public safe and make it harder for terrorists to succeed."

The new measures require airlines to improve passenger screening, explosive detection and screening of airport personnel in an effort to thwart the possibility of insider attacks. These changes would apply to the approximately 2,000 commercial flights arriving daily in the United States from 280 airports on 180 airlines in 105 countries.

European and US officials aid the changes would take effect within three weeks.

Read more: Airlines offer workaround for US laptop ban

'Seen and unseen'

Kelly said that both physical screening methods and enhanced technological methods would play a role. He said they would be "seen and unseen" and would be phased in over the coming months.

"Security is my number one concern," said Kelly, giving his speech at the Center for a New American Security. "Our enemies are adaptive and we have to adapt as well."

In March, a ban in laptops in hand luggage was introduced on flights from eight North African and Middle Eastern countries amid intelligence that terror groups are trying to develop a bomb disguised as a laptop battery. The UK has also banned similar-sized electronics from being taken into cabins on direct flights from six countries.

Kelly has said an expansion of the laptop ban was "likely," but also said recently the US government is looking for alternatives. 

Airlines that fail to uphold the new standards in time could see them forced to ban large electronic items in both cabin and checked-in luggage and could potentially be barred from operating flights into the US.

Conversely, adherence to the new rules could result in a lifting of the current US restrictions to cabin luggage on airlines flying from the Middle East and North Africa. It also puts any immediate expansion of the laptop cabin baggage ban to flights from Europe on the back burner.

dv/rg (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)


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