London: Britain tightened airline security on flights from Turkey, the Middle East and North Africa on Tuesday, banning laptops and tablet computers from the plane cabin hours after the US announced similar security warning.
Passengers flying directly to Britain from Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Turkey will be required to place those devices and large phones into hold luggage, a government spokesman said. “The additional security measures may cause some disruption for passengers and flights, and we understand the frustration that will cause, but our top priority will always be to maintain the safety of British nationals,” he said in a statement.
The move came hours after the US government warned that extremists plan to target passenger jets with bombs hidden in electronic devices, and banned carrying them in cabins on flights from 10 airports in eight countries. The British ban only involves six countries, two of which — Lebanon and Tunisia — do not feature on the US list. Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar and United Arab Emirates are on the US list, but not the British one.
“We have been in close touch with the Americans to fully understand their position,” the spokesman said. Prime Minister Theresa May has chaired a number of meetings on aviation security over the last few weeks, including on Tuesday morning, where the new measures were agreed, he said.
“Decisions to make changes to our aviation security regime are never taken lightly,” he added. “We will not hesitate to act in order to maintain the safety of the travelling public and we will work closely with our international partners to minimise any disruption these new measures may cause.”
The change affects six British airlines, including British Airways and EasyJet, and eight foreign carriers, including Turkish Airlines. Senior US officials told reporters that nine airlines from eight countries had been given 96 hours to ban devices bigger than a mobile phone from the cabin.
The British ban includes phones which are more than 16 centimetres long, 9.3cm wide and 1.5cm deep.