Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Turkey seeks reversal of US flight laptop ban

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American Airlines planes sit at the gate on the tarmac of McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, Nevada on February 15, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / RHONA WISE

Turkey said Tuesday it would ask the United States to reverse a ban on electronic devices larger than mobile phones in the cabin of flights from 10 airports in Turkey, the Middle East and North Africa.

“We particularly emphasise how this will not benefit the passenger and that reverse steps or a softening should be adopted,” Transport Minister Ahmet Arslan told reporters, saying the decision was not right for Turkey or the US.

Airlines hit by the ban include flag-carrier Turkish Airlines, which has the highest foreign sales of any Turkish company. The airline’s profits have already been hit by a slew of terror attacks in Turkey in 2016.

Arslan said Turkish officials were speaking to their relevant American counterparts regarding the ban, which applies to direct flights to the US.

The minister said he hoped there would be a “positive” outcome from the talks, which began Monday.

“Annually, 80 million flights take off from Istanbul and in my opinion, people should not confuse it” with less high-profile destinations, Arslan added.

“In that sense, we already take all kinds of security measures.”

Laptops, tablets and portable game consoles are affected by the ban, but they may still be stowed in the hold in checked baggage.

The new emergency ruling affects passengers on approximately 50 flights per day from some of the busiest hubs in the Middle East and North Africa as well as Turkey.

US officials defended the decision, saying it was the “right thing to do” to secure the safety of those travelling.

Other airlines affected include Royal Jordanian, EgyptAir, Qatar Airways, Emirates and Etihad Airways.

Turkish Airlines — in which the government holds a stake of just over 49 percent — issued a statement earlier Tuesday confirming the ban.

Arslan said that passengers head to the US for many reasons including developing bilateral trade, adding that the ruling could negatively affect travellers’ comfort.

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