The airline industry’s global lobby group has said that travelers could be cost more than $1 billion by the widening of a U.S. ban on carrying electronic devices aboard aircraft to include flights from Europe.
The International Air Transport Association estimates that extending the ban to the 28 European Union states plus Switzerland, Norway and Iceland would impact 390 a day, or more than 2,500 a week even while existing curbs on some services from the Middle East and North Africa affect 350 U.S.-bound flights per week. It says that costs passengers $195 million for renting loaner devices on board, $216 million for longer travel times, and $655 million in lost productivity.
IATA Chief Executive Officer Alexandre de Juniac said in an interview that expanding the moratorium on laptops and tablets might not be the best way of countering any terrorist threat and would cause “significant” disruption in the trans-Atlantic business market.
“Traveling with your laptop is part of everyday life,” De Juniac told Bloomberg. “We are not sure that this ban is adapted to the threat. We don’t know what is the basis or intelligence that justifies this measure.”
According to IATA, which represents 265 airlines around the world, rather than handing over laptops loaded with confidential information, some businesses will also choose to cancel trips. It further says that while traveler numbers, fares and ultimately frequencies could all decline, carriers themselves would incur costs from departure delays, additional handling of hold luggage and liability for damaged or stolen devices. And as more lithium battery-powered are stowed in holds, at the same time flights may become less safe.
De Juniac said that in order to contribute to developing a solution, IATA needs to be told more about U.S. concerns. “We can provide appropriate advice when it comes to security and protection measures for passengers. What we have said to the U.S. and U.K. authorities and to the Europeans is, please, if you want to take this measure, work very closely with the industry,” De Juniac added.
Expressing “serious concern” regarding an expanded ban and detailing the estimated passenger costs, De Juniac wrote to U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and European Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc on Tuesday.
The communication says that they should consider applying measures to enhance security while avoiding the concentration of devices in holds iBottom of Form
f governments agree that wider curbs are necessary. It says that measures such as the implementation of trusted-traveler programs to help identify lower-risk passengers, the deployment of behavioral detection officers, closer visual scrutiny of devices, and the increased use of explosives detectors and sniffer dogs, could be included.
De Juniac, previously CEO of Air France-KLM Group, said that more detail needs to be provided even while there has been some U.S. consultation with airlines that has allowed the industry to at least express its concerns — in contrast to the “badly implemented” Mideast ban.
(Adapted from Bloomberg)