UK slaps #ElectronicsBan on flights from five Arab countries

UK slaps #ElectronicsBan on flights from five Arab countries
Six Muslim-majority countries - Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia - will be affected by the new UK ban, which mimics US restrictions on carrying devices on flights.
3 min read
21 March, 2017
The order bans large electronic devices on-board cabins[Getty]

The UK is set to adopt a ban on electronic devices - such as laptops or cameras - on board flights from several Middle Eastern and North African nations, following a similar move by the United States that could soon be picked up by Canada.

The ban affects flights traveling to the UK from six nations in the Middle East and North Africa, including Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia.

"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," the prime minister's spokesman said in a statement.

"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."


Devices larger than 16 cms long, 9.3 cms wide and 1.5 cms deep will be banned in airliner's cabins, according to the BBC, and will have to be stowed in the cargo hold. 

Just a day earlier, two airlines from the region confirmed a US Department order to ban electronic devices larger than a mobile phone on-board the cabin.

The UK's move was "obviously part of coordinated action with the US", BBC home affairs correspondent Daniel Sandford said.

A tweet from Saudi Airlines and one - subsequently deleted - by Royal Jordanian airlines informed their customers of the imminent ban.

Royal Jordanian said all such devices - including laptops, tablets, cameras, DVD players and electronic games - would need to be checked in under new US government rules coming into force 21 March.

Only mobile phones and medical devices needed in flight would be excluded from the ban, it said. The tweet was later removed amid suggestions the airline had released the information prematurely.

CNN quoted a US official as saying the ban was believed to be related to a threat posed by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP.

"We have no comment on potential security precautions, but will provide an update when appropriate," said the US Department of Homeland Security in a statement.

US ban

According to the Financial Times - which cited a US official, the new US rules will concern eight Middle Eastern nations - including Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

The move would mark the latest attempt by President Donald Trump's administration to tighten security at US borders, after its bid to curb travel from a group of Muslim majority nations was twice blocked by the courts.

Meanwhile, Canada said it was considering prohibiting personal electronics on-board flights from Turkey, the Middle East and North Africa, following in the footsteps of both the US and the UK on Tuesday.

"We are looking at the information that has been presented to us, we'll look at it carefully and have a fulsome discussion amongst our colleagues," Minister Marc Garneau told reporters.

"The (threat) information," he said, "has been provided to us by other intelligence communities."

The three countries routinely share intelligence - including on terrorism threats - as part of the Five Eyes intelligence gathering alliance.