US lifts laptop ban on flights from Turkey, eyes now turned to UK
ISTANBULThe United States lifted a three-month-long ban on in-cabin electronic devices, such as laptops and tablet computers, on flights from Turkey early on July 5.
Turkish officials now have eyes on the United Kingdom to follow suit after a technical delegation finalizes security inspections in airports across Turkey, just as the U.S. did.
In a statement, flag carrier Turkish Airlines said the ban was lifted on U.S. bound flights as of early July 5.
The flag carrier accepted passengers with electronic devices onto its 6:45 a.m. (03:45 GMT) flight from Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport to New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.
The company also tweeted a message to its passengers about the lifting of the ban.
“Dear Passengers, #WelcomeOnBoard to our US-bound flight. Please fasten your seatbelts and enjoy your own electronic devices,” it said on July 5.
Transport Minister Ahmet Arslan said the ban was lifted as of early July 5, as Turkey met all the requirements set by U.S. officials.
The removal came after Turkey began using highly sophisticated tomography devices for X-ray and ultrasound at Istanbul’s Atatürk International Airport, Arslan said.
The ban was imposed at the 10 airports in eight countries - Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and Turkey - to address fears that bombs could be concealed in electronic devices. The U.K. followed the suit.
A technical delegation from the U.K. is expected to make inspections within this week, according to Arslan.
“Following their inspections, the U.K. will remove the ban, I believe,” he said.
Turkish Airlines CEO Bilal Ekşi also said the electronic ban on U.K.-bound flights from Turkey would be lifted soon, in a tweeted comment on July 5.
Meanwhile, Turkish Airlines Chair İlker Aycı said thousands of devices had been handled carefully even before the U.S. ban was lifted.
“A total of 81,736 devices were collected from passengers at gates and carried carefully in special containers in 1,087 U.S.-bound flights during 102 days due to the ban,” Aycı said, according to company statement.
He added that 75 percent of the collected devices were laptops and tablets, while remaining 25 percent were cameras, GPS, kindles and other types of devices.
Aycı also expressed gratitude to his colleagues for implementing this operation carefully.
Meanwhile, Emirates airline announced on July 5 that it had won an exemption from a U.S. ban on passengers taking laptops and tablet computers on flights from its base in Dubai.
Emirates thus becomes the third carrier after neighboring Abu Dhabi's Etihad and Turkish Airlines to win a reprieve from the new rules Washington imposed three months ago on direct flights from 10 airports in Turkey, the Middle East and North Africa.