For just under a week now, an electronics ban has been in place for select flights to the US and the UK. The ban seems a bit ridiculous to me, not because I want safety to be compromised, but rather because of how inconsistent and poorly thought out the policy seems to be.
A lot of people have called into question the logic of the ban (especially as it pertains to the US restricting flights from the UAE and Qatar, while the UK doesn’t, even though they’re presumably going off the same intelligence).
Well, now the International Air Transport Association (IATA) is calling out the electronics ban and demanding a change. For those of you not familiar with IATA, it’s an airline trade organization representing 265 airlines and roughly 83% of total air traffic. In other words, they’re the voice of airlines. Here’s what they’re saying about the electronics ban:
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) called on governments to urgently find alternatives to recently announced measures by the United States and the United Kingdom to restrict the carry-on of large electronic items on certain flights departing the Middle East and North Africa.
“The current measures are not an acceptable long-term solution to whatever threat they are trying to mitigate. Even in the short term it is difficult to understand their effectiveness. And the commercial distortions they create are severe. We call on governments to work with the industry to find a way to keep flying secure without separating passengers from their personal electronics,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.
They ask all the same questions we’ve raised here on the blog:
“With the measures now in place, our passengers and member airlines are asking valid questions. Why don’t the US and the UK have a common list of airports? How can laptops be secure in the cabin on some flights and not others, including flights departing from the same airport? And surely there must be a way to screen electronic equipment effectively? The current situation is not acceptable and will not maintain the all-important confidence of the industry or of travelers. We must find a better way. And Governments must act quickly,” said de Juniac.
Here’s a video with IATA’s CEO about the electronics ban:
And as you’d expect, IATA would like governments to work more closely with airlines towards the common goal of keeping aviation safe:
IATA also expressed frustration at the process used by governments to put in place the security measures which was woefully lacking. “The industry came together quickly to implement the new requirements. That was a challenge because there was no prior consultation and little coordination by governments,” said de Juniac.
IATA has long called for better information sharing and coordination on security measures among governments and with the industry.
“While governments have the primary responsibility for security, we share the priority of keeping passengers, crew and aircraft secure. To do that effectively intelligence is king. And it needs to be shared amongst governments and with the industry. It’s the only way to stop terrorists before they get near an airport, let alone aircraft,” de Juniac.
Moreover, cooperation between industry and governments yields a better result. “Airlines don’t want access to state secrets. But if airlines understand the outcome governments want, they can help with the operational experience to deliver that result effectively and efficiently,” said de Juniac.
Well said, IATA… well said. I hope they keep putting pressure on the government, because if not, something tells me this will become a permanent restriction, like the liquids ban.
(Tip of the hat to Thinus)