IATA Chief Calls for End to Unacceptable Electronics Ban

International Air Transport Association CEO (and former CEO of Air France KLM) Alexandre de Juniac spoke today at the Montreal Council on Foreign Relations.

IATA is the world association of airlines and, along with the International Civil Aviation Organization, a standards-setting body.

Here’s a transcript of de Juniac’s talk. He spent some time on the laptop ban levied against 10 airports, 9 airlines, and 8 countries for flights to the U.S. calling the measures “not an acceptable long-term solution” and “difficult to understand their effectiveness” in the short term.

If only US airline CEOs were as candid, but of course they’re benefiting from the ban even as passengers suffer.

Last week’s ban on large electronics for flights to the US and the UK from some airports is worth reflecting on. The industry came together quickly to implement the new requirements. That was a challenge because there was no consultation and little coordination by governments.

Now, along with our customers we are asking some questions that underpin confidence in our security measures:

Why don’t the US and the UK have a common list of airports?

How can laptops be secure in the cabin on some flights and not others…..especially on flights originating at a common airport?

And surely there must be a way to screen electronic equipment effectively at airport checkpoints?

The current measures are not an acceptable long-term solution to whatever threat they are trying to mitigate. Even in the short term it is difficult to understand their effectiveness. And the commercial distortions they create are severe. We call on governments to work with the industry to find a way to keep flying secure without separating passengers from their personal electronics.

Ban the ban, it’s a silly response to a movie theater plot.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. This is such a blatant attempt to punish the gulf carriers for having superior service. The U.S. carriers can’t win through good service so they have to cheat by asking Trump to intervene. This is so typical how Trump conducts his business through intimidation.

  2. Gee, first I have heard here about this policy. Wonder what is behind it? Must be that dastardly DJT.

  3. “This is such a blatant attempt to punish the gulf carriers for having superior service. The U.S. carriers can’t win through good service so they have to cheat by asking Trump to intervene. This is so typical how Trump conducts his business through intimidation.”

    Wow. And how do you feel about UFOs?

  4. I’m with Omar.

    But I think it’s only a matter of time before they reverse it.

    The IATA chief summed it up well in his speech. What is it actually achieving? Apart from a few baggage handlers all of a sudden becoming wealthy living off stolen property.

    By the way, has anyone heard a peep out of His Excellency Big Al Sheikh Baker of QR? What are they doing? They are my main airline and I am keenly waiting to hear if they will follow EK’s lead on this one.

    C’mon big Al oh precious one…. let us know what your decree is….

  5. It’s effectively a subsidy for US carriers. Another blogger said he would avoid the targeted carriers, at least inbound.. I’m surprised they weren’t banned originally–much more likely to be weaponized than, say, a bottle of Aqua Fina. (NOT that I’m in favor)

  6. The ban is just Trump’s way of creating an advantage for US carriers. The ban is ineffective unless every single airport and airline is included. If they can tamper with an IPAD in the Middle East they can do the same in Germany, Belgium, Madrid and every other country. Europe is loaded with refugees from the middle east so should every European country be included? They deliberately left those countries off the list because US flag carriers would have a fit since they would then be subject to the ban. Typical Trump business tactics.

  7. Well, some of you conspiracy theorists MAY be right … but PERHAPS security experts know and reacted to something of which we are not aware.

    Perhaps some enterprising and complaining blogger might want to focus less on pushing commission-earning credit card applications and might want to interview a security expert or two for a more balanced viewpoint.

    In the end, maybe we’ll see the ban in a different, more reasonable light. Maybe not.

  8. @Ron — We are almost certain to see this laptop ban modified, undoubtedly through the implementation of new security protocols. I have no idea whether those protocols are necessary, but it will probably be a variation of what you currently see on most int’l flights to the USA: the infamous secondary screening at the gate. You know, the guys who make sure you don’t smuggle a bottle of water onto the plane that you got at the airport.

    The points bloggers will then be able to take their laptops on their first class flights to the Maldives. Until, eventually, the shiekhs run out of money, or the US government takes steps to address the “dumping” of heavily subsidized Middle East airline seats into the USA.

  9. –The ban is absurd.
    –I am not going to let my laptop be shipped, even though it is old and not worth much. If it is lost, it would be very inconvenient. Although I keep my laptop clean (in case it is stolen), who knows if some identity thief might be able to find something.
    –I am also not going to travel without it as I need it to keep in touch with people.
    –Once it broke, and I had to buy a mini-laptop on the spot because I could not be without internet access.

  10. To those of you saying that this expansion of the ban is about “creating an advantage for US carriers:” that is even more absurd than the ban itself.

    You do realize that US carriers operate quite a lot of flights between Europe and the US right? This hurts US carriers as much, if not more, than European carriers.

    We could make that criticism with the orginal Middle East only implementation of the ban, but not with this expansion.

  11. Edit – I am an idiot – reading stories in multiple windows and got things confused.

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