US laptop ban lifted for Qatar & Turkish

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Qatar Airways and Turkish Airlines announced Thursday that passengers can once more carry onboard their laptops after US authorities approved new security arrangements at Doha’s Hamad International Airport and Istanbul’s Ataturk International Airport.

Doha-based Qatar Airways and Ataturk-based Turkish were among airlines affected by the ban the US imposed on 10 countries in March prohibiting personal electronic devices (PEDs) larger than mobile phone to be brought as carry-on luggage on flights to the US.

The ban was said by the US government to be in response to renewed, but unspecific efforts by terrorists to bring down airliners using new forms of explosives that could be hidden in PEDs.

On June 28, however, the US issued new, broader security screening requirements all international flights to the US and said the laptop ban would be lifted if airports in affected countries could demonstrate they had complied with the new security measures.

In a brief statement, Qatar Airways said that “with immediate effect, all personal electronic devices can be carried on board all departures from Hamad International Airport, Doha, to destinations in the United States.

“Qatar Airways and Hamad International Airport have met with all requirements of the US Department of Homeland Security’s new security guidelines and we would like to express our thanks to the US and local authorities for their support during this process.”

A similar announcement came from Turkish: “The electronic ban concerning electronic devices that was implemented on US arrival flights since March 25 has ended today on Wednesday. This morning, Turkish Airlines passengers traveling to New York JFK from İstanbul Atatürk Airport carried their electronic devices on the 6:45 a.m. flight number TK-3.”

Some idea of the scale of the headache caused by the ban came in comments from Turkish Airlines’ chairman İlker Aycı: ‘‘During 102 days, 81,736 electronic devices were carefully collected from our passengers at gates by our staff and carried in overprotected baggage on 1,087 flights to the US.

“75% of devices were laptops and tablets, 25% consisted of cameras, GPS devices and Kindles.”

Qatar and Turkish join Etihad Airways and Emirates Airlines, whose home bases of Abu Dhabi International Airport and Dubai International Airport have already been freed from the carry-on PED restrictions. Saudia is expected to follow suit later in July.

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