U.S. Security Officials Lift Laptop Ban for Abu Dhabi Airline

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U.S. security officials are allowing passengers on flights from Abu Dhabi to the United States to carry their laptops and other electronics in airplane cabins.

The Department of Homeland Security said Sunday that it is lifting the ban because additional security measures have been put in place. Etihad Airways is the only carrier that operates flights to the United States from Abu Dhabi International Airport.

DHS spokesman David Lapan said that TSA officials verified the new measures with “visual confirmation.” He said Etihad’s efforts are a “model for both foreign and domestic airlines looking to adopt the new measures.”

Etihad said Sunday that it welcomed the decision. The airline operates 45 flights each week between Abu Dhabi — the capital of the United Arab Emirates — and the United States.

“We would like to thank our guests for their understanding and loyalty while the ban was in place,” Etihad said in a statement.

Emirates airline, based in nearby Dubai, which is also in the U.A.E., is still subject to the laptop ban. The airline is the largest international carrier in the world.

Abu Dhabi already has U.S.-based security and immigration officials at the airport. Travelers to the United States clear customs before departing Abu Dhabi, allowing them to skip immigration lines upon arriving in the United States.

Electronic devices larger than a cellphone are still banned from the cabin on U.S.-bound flights from nine other airports in eight countries in the Middle East and Africa. Eight airlines operate flights to the United States from those airports.

The ban, which has been in place since late March, was prompted because of concerns that electronics could be used to smuggle explosives onto airplanes.

Lapan, the DHS spokesman, would not detail the security measures.

But they were alluded to last week by DHS Secretary John Kelly, who said that the new measures included enhanced screening of passengers and electronic devices.

The criterion are, in part, designed to let affected carriers allow electronics in airplane cabins again, while helping others avoid a ban.

Lapan also said the department is approaching the security plan in phases. He said Etihad’s changes were required within a “shorter timeframe.” Other actions will take longer and require more international coordination, he said.

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