MS Risk Blog

UK follows in US Footsteps in Electronic Device Ban

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Shortly after the United States announced a ban on electronic devices on board flights from certain airports flying into the US, the UK Government has announced a ban on large electronic devices being carried in cabin luggage on aircraft flying into the UK from six countries.

UK officials have disclosed that the ban, which comes into effect at the end of March, affects direct inbound flights from Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia. UK airlines operating direct flights that will be affected are British airways, easyJet,, Monarch, Thomas Cook and Thomson, while overseas airlines impacted are Turkish Airlines, Pegasus Airways, Atlas-Global Airlines, Middle East Airlines, EgyptAir, Royal Jordanian, Tunis Air and Saudi. The affected airlines have been told about the order, with Number 10 noting that it may take a few days in order to fully implement the security measure.

The devices covered by the ban include laptops, tablets, which are larger than a typical smartphone, measuring 16 cm x 9.3 cm x 1.5 cm. These will now have to be checked into the planes hold. An Apple iPhone 7 Plus, which is the firms largest phone, will not be affected by the ban. The ban was ordered by Prime Minister Theresa May on 21 March and follows a number of meetings on aviation security.

The move comes after the US this month imposed its own restrictions on flights originating in Cairo, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Kuwait, Jordan, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Doha and Istanbul. UK security sources however have disclosed that the move is not a reaction to a specific intelligence threat, rather a response to the ongoing general threat to aviation.

Germany meanwhile announced on 22 March that it has no plans to introduce restrictions on carry-on electronic devices on planes coming from some Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East and North Africa. A spokesman for the German Interior Ministry disclosed that the government had been informed about the US measures, noting that German airports are not affected by the measures. Comparable rules are not planned in Germany at the moment. Sources however have disclosed that other countries are expected to impose similar bans.

The move by the US and the UK comes as fears are increasing over jet bombs being hidden in electronic devices. US intelligence officials believe that terrorists are perfecting explosive devices small enough so that they can fit inside consumer electronics in an attempt to bring down commercial airliners. This concern is behind the decision to ban larger electronic devices in cabins on direct US-bound flights from a number of destinations in the Middle East and in North Africa. US media has quoted officials confirming the move as being linked to a threat from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and has been prompted by recent intelligence. The group boasts one of the worlds most feared bomb makers, Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri. Authorities are also concerned about similar plots to an incident that occurred in Somalia in February 2016, when a bomb hidden in a laptop blew open the side of a plane but failed to bring it down. Only the bomber was killed in that incident.