US threatens to ban flights

Tough new security measures are to be introduced on flights to the US, it was announced this week. They include enhanced screening of passengers and electronic devices in more than 100 countries. Airlines have been given four months to comply with the new measures, otherwise they will be banned from carrying passenger electronics, both in the hold and in the cabin. A Heathrow spokesperson said: “Heathrow’s top priority is the safety and security of our passengers and colleagues. “We are aware of the announcement from the Department of Homeland Security in relation to enhanced screening of passengers flying to the United States. Alongside our airline partners, we will work to ensure passenger journeys through Heathrow are as smooth as possible and will provide advice to passengers in due course.” The US said the enhanced security had been introduced to avoid extending the ban on large electronics in cabin bags, introduced on flights from eight mostly Muslim countries in March, to all flights to the US. European Union security officials have held several meetings with their counter-parts from the US to attempt to avoid the so-called laptop ban being extended to flights from Europe. Airlines currently covered by the ban might be able to allow passengers to carry laptops and other larger electronics into the cabin if they comply with the new security measures. US homeland security secretary John Kelly said those who failed to comply might be banned from flying to the US altogether. “Make no mistake: our enemies are constantly working to find new methods for disguising explosives, recruiting insiders, and hijacking aircraft,” he said. “We cannot play international whack-a-mole with each new threat. Instead, we must put in place new measures across the board to keep the travelling public safe and make it harder for terrorists to succeed.” The measures will cover 280 airports and 180 airlines, affecting an average of 2,100 flights a day, carrying 325,000 passengers.