Why you don’t need to fear the proposed laptop ban – just yet

October 23, 2017 6:21 pm

Regional airlines may be feeling the pressure of lower revenues and all too aware of any and all news that could negatively affect their bottom line. But it seems every cloud does indeed have a silver lining, as the proposed global laptop ban will have limited impact in the region, say GCC carriers.

In the past week, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has pushed to ban laptop computers and other large electronic devices from checked bags on international flights, following tests that showed electronics in checked bags exploding when overheating next to aerosols. All of a sudden, carriers flying international routes started sweating.

Read: Emirates, Turkish airlines join Etihad in lifting laptop ban on US flights

FAA ban plan

“The FAA is concerned about lithium-ion batteries, common in electronic devices like laptops. Tests conducted by the agency have concluded that when large electronics overheat in luggage, they run the risk of combustion when packed with aerosol canisters like hairspray and dry shampoo. Depending on the type of plane, the potential for explosion becomes a danger to the entire aircraft,” a recent report in Forbes read.

The FAA findings claim that some new airplanes may not have the right fire-fighting systems to meet the dangers posed.  It believed that electronic devices had not been exploding, because they were mostly carried on as hand luggage and not checked in.

No fear felt

Saj Ahmad, Chief Analyst at StrategicAero Research, told AMEinfo that the new rule on laptops, if implemented, would not have a major effect on airlines.

“Given that the laptop ban in the cabin has been removed, there should not be any concerns or risks about devices being barred from the luggage hold. Many travellers were reluctant to have expensive devices put into cargo holds anyway and so with the laptop ban in the cabin now firmly gone, this is a non-issue. Add in the fact that hardly anyone checked in laptops for the cargo hold anyway and you can see that this new rule has minimal effects,” Saj said.

“This is not a serious issue for business travelers, because they will have their devices on them all the time, particularly if the devices contain sensitive or competitive corporate information that needs to be protected at all times,” he added.

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Emirates Airlines said they wouldn’t comment when contacted by AMEinfo, only saying that: “No bans have been put in place (this has only been proposed), so we won’t be commenting.”

Meanwhile, flydubai doesn’t fly to the US and as such any future actions on this issue would be irrelevant to them. The airline does have a policy on laptops as per their conditions of carriage which says that ‘as far as portable electronic devices in your checked baggage, please note that any portable electronic devices packed in your checked baggage must be switched off and not able to be activated accidentally during the flight.”

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No ban on carry-on electronics

The FAA has historically made it clear that lithium-ion batteries and devices that use them are potentially very harmful and has specifically banned hover boards, cell-phones, spare batteries and e-cigarettes from checked luggage.

The US Department of Homeland Security had issued in March this year a ban on passenger-cabin electronics, but was later removed in July this year, following airlines’ compliance and no record of accidents.

The 2017 electronics ban required airlines to sanction any electronics beyond the size of a mobile phone, like tabs or laptops, on carry-on luggage for direct flights departing from 10 major airports in the Middle East and travelling to the United States.  The ban originally applied to airports in Amman, Jordan, Cairo, Istanbul, Jeddah and Riyadh in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait City, Casablanca, Morocco, Doha, Qatar, and Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.



Hadi Khatib
By Hadi Khatib
Hadi Khatib is a business editor with more than 15 years' experience delivering news and copy of relevance to a wide range of audiences. If newsworthy and actionable, you will find this editor interested in hearing about your sector developments and writing about it.