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Published on Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Laptop ban on European flights will create 'economic tsunami'



EU leaders have been warned that US proposals to extend a ban on laptops in carry-on bags to European flights could create 'an economic tsunami of the likes of which terrorists are dreaming of'.



The warning from business travel leaders was contained in an open letter to the EU as it prepares to meet with the US Department of Homeland Security to discuss its proposals tomorrow.



In the letter, addressed to EU transport commissioner Violeta Bulc, Business Travel Coalition chairman Kevin Mitchell said that such a ban could even threaten the survival of some European airlines.



The Trump administration has already banned passengers from taking large hand-held electronics into the cabin on flights to the US from 10 mainly Muslim countries due to fears terrorists could hide a bomb in such devices.



It has recently discussed with US airlines the possibility of extending the ban to flights from certain Europe destinations, which some believe could take effect any day.



A ban would affect major European airlines, including British Airways and Virgin, and would probably also extend to US carriers.



In his letter to the EU, Mitchell said extending the ban to Europe would affect 3,500 flights a week this summer, hit 65 million passengers a year and 'slam business travel'.



"The economic risk to airlines and the travel and tourism industry is orders of magnitude greater than the threat from pandemics, volcanoes or wars. This is serious," he wrote.



Mitchell said that if business travellers were forced to check-in laptops, many would not fly at all due to the risk of them being lost or stolen, backing up a UK survey which found that a ban would deter one in three from flying.



"Most organizations - corporations, universities, governments - will not allow employees to check laptops, most of which have sensitive information on them. IT chiefs and risk managers are very conservative and assume everything on a laptop is sensitive - emails, contacts, hiring, marketing and sales strategies, new product diagrams," he said.



"As such, well beyond lost inflight productivity, the significantly larger consequence of a potential electronics ban is if, for example, a business traveler is going to London for a week, he will not have his laptop with him. That for most business travelers will be an absolute no-go, deal breaker. That's where a dramatic falloff in business travel demand would be based. A monthly trip to London becomes a once-a-quarter one.



"It only takes a relatively small number of business travelers to stay home to make a flight unprofitable and consequently drive down demand for and yields on all Business and First Class seat sales."



Mitchell said there was evidence that this was already is happening on flights from the Middle East, where the US imposed a laptop ban last March.



"Despite creative efforts by Gulf carriers such as gate-side check-in, separate secure inflight storage and dedicated arrival pick-up, not to mention onboard loaner tablets, early indications are the negative impact on bookings has been significant," he said.


Airlines are also warning that a ban on electronics in cabin bags could lead to chaos at airports this summer, as passengers might not be aware of what devices they can and cannot take onboard, and they are worried that packing electronics with lithium batteries into check-in bags will create a fire risk in the hold.


Mitchell urged the EU leaders to consider whether the security threat was significant enough to risk both that and the financial consequences of such a ban and queried whether alternatives had already been considered and ruled out.



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  • So now the hold is safe

    How funny that checking in laptops is now safe. All those dire warning posters about lithium batteries must have been wrong. They definitely can't be checked in. Only now they can because it's politically expedient.

    By W Shearer, Wednesday, May 17, 2017

  • Response to 'What Unmitigated Rubbiah'

    Mr. Jetwash -- re-read the article. It is the airlines whose business is threatened by this law, not the passengers' businesses. Airlines are only profitable if the planes are full. A rule that chops demand five or 10 percent will indeed threaten the airline's financial stability.

    By John Schubert, Wednesday, May 17, 2017

  • It's not security!

    So, we have a laptop with a bomb. It's now been moved from the passenger compartment to the hold. In both cases if it goes off the plane may come down. Perhaps if it does not, then more passengers are saved as it was in the hold - but... We have a laptop that catches on fire. This absolutely happened in a spectacular way on three flights in the past year (probably more). In each case containing the fire was extremely difficult, but was eventually done by the crew and passengers. If that same laptop had been in the hold there is a _very_ real possibility that those planes would have either come down, or required emergency landings. And, no, gas has not been shown to be effective against laptop fires caused by their batteries (the case in all three). So, what's really going on? While I want to think it's just stupidity, hysteria, etc... I highly doubt that. Something else is going on and the silliness is that it will come out eventually, so why hide the real reasons for this insane ban? Finally, would it not be much safer to require more in-depth scanning of passenger laptops "up top" to detect bombs vs. throwing them all in the hold?

    By Hervey Allen, Wednesday, May 17, 2017

  • Where is the risk?

    Is the bomb is in the Laptop then the explosion will probally cause the plane to crash wherever it is stored. If the problem is that the laptop can activate the bomb then why has the bomb not been discovered. Is the risk greater when the Lithum battery is in the hold or of a terrorist blowing up the plane So where is the risk - a lot of unanswered questions.

    By Paul Johnston, Wednesday, May 17, 2017

  • What Unmitigated Rubbiah

    Frankly, if you have a business that is going to suffer so greatly because one of your officers cannot use a laptop or other device for a few hours.... you really need to review how your business operates.

    By ** Jetwash **, Tuesday, May 16, 2017

  • Security

    Placing laptops in check in luggage is a total no go. Sadly and somewhat embarrassingly, I've had to do it twice in the past and on both occasions the laptop never made it to the other side. Literally stolen from the bag, which also went missing for a while. Of course, travellers need to be safe first and foremost but there must be some other way to detect potential issues with laptops and devices, without this huge disruption

    By Kenny Picken, Tuesday, May 16, 2017

  • If a laptop contains a bomb...

    ...then surely it makes no difference whether it's in the cabin or in the hold?

    By Richard English, Tuesday, May 16, 2017

  • WHY?

    I fail to see why the banning of taking laptops should cause such a problem. For business people you can take all your information on a memory stick. Whilst overseas you now have the means to communicate everyone instantaneously from any computer. Tourists have got in the habit of taking laptops to watch films and publish their every move on Facebook and Twitter. Why not relax, take in the culture and scenery of where you are and actually have a holiday?

    By Irene Laird, Tuesday, May 16, 2017

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