US & EU in urgent talks over Washington plan to expand laptop ban on flights from Europe

US & EU in urgent talks over Washington plan to expand laptop ban on flights from Europe
The United States and top European Union officials are to hold urgent talks about the possible extension to include the EU in the laptop ban on US-bound flights.

European Commission transport spokeswoman Anna-Kaisa Itkonen confirmed the talks would take place Friday, reports AP.

Itkonen added the EU had no information of a new threat that would prompt any expansion of the ban.

Plans to expand restrictions on laptops on commercial flights from some European countries to the US could have a huge impact on the world's busiest international traffic corridor.

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The number of flights from Europe to the US is running up to 350 a day. Extending the electronics restrictions which is currently under consideration by the White House will probably disrupt the global aviation sector and reduce US tourism ahead of the summer season.

Earlier this week, officials close to the matter told Reuters that the Trump administration was likely to review the current ban. The expansion could also hit the US airlines.

The details of a potential change haven’t been cleared. However, aviation and travel industry groups are expressing concern.

“The North Atlantic market is highly competitive, but also highly profitable because of the links between the key financial centers of Europe and New York,” said James Stamp, global head of aviation at KPMG, stressing that the travel business could suffer significant losses due to the ban before they found a way out.

Two travel trade groups, the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) and the US Travel Association issued statements to urge the US authorities to be as flexible as possible to minimize flight disruptions.

“The question remains whether the targeted application of policies banning personal electronics is an effective measure to reduce the risk of terrorism,” said Michael McCormick, GBTA executive director, as cited by Bloomberg.

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According to the GBTA, the US is the world’s second-largest market for spending on business travel after China. Global spending on business travel is expected to reach $1.6 trillion by 2020.

Extending of the ban will have a disproportionate impact on US carriers. United Airlines, Delta, and American Airlines have the most to lose with British Airways likely to suffer as well, according to Olivier Jager, CEO of Spanish travel intelligence firm ForwardKeys, as quoted by CNNMoney.

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The measure could seriously jeopardize the broader US tourism sector as travelers from Europe comprise nearly 40 percent of all overseas visitors, according to research firm Euromonitor.

The data from the US Travel Association shows that tourists from Britain, Germany, and France annually spend $31 billion on tourism and air transportation to America.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has urged Washington to search for alternatives.

“The responses of Canada, the EU, and Australia to the same security intelligence demonstrate that a ban on large electronic devices in the cabin is not the only way forward. Indeed we believe that it is not sustainable in the long run,” said IATA's CEO Alexandre de Juniac in a statement.