US To Toughen Airline Security, No Laptop Ban Expansion

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

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US To Toughen Airline Security, No Laptop Ban Expansion

Homeland Security officials said the agency would issue directives to about 180 air carriers (File Photo)


Washington:  The US announced Wednesday it would implement tough new security rules for all airlines flying into the country, but held off from a threatened expansion of its carry-on laptop ban.

Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly said evolving terror threats made it imperative to raise security standards for airlines from all countries, rather than take a piecemeal approach on personal electronics.

"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."

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

Homeland Security officials said the agency would issue directives to about 180 air carriers in 105 countries, including US carriers, that fly into the United States.

Collectively they operate about 2,000 US-bound flights each day carrying some 325,000 passengers.

Asked about timeframes, officials would only say that they would give adequate time for the airlines to adapt.

"We are raising the bar globally" for security standards, said one senior official who declined to be identified.

They also said they expect nearly all carriers to be able to meet the new standards.

Those that cannot or will not, they said, would be forced to reject all passenger electronics, either in the cabin or hold of the aircraft, or may even find themselves unable to fly to the United States.

The move put off for the moment an extension of the ban on laptops and other carry-on personal electronics to flights from Europe, something that had been under discussion for months.

The laptop ban was instituted in March for eight North African and Middle East countries based on intelligence that the ISIS group was working to build a bomb into a tablet or laptop computer.

For the same reason, Britain also banned similar-sized electronics from being carried into cabins on direct flights from six countries.

(With inputs from AFP and Reuters)

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