US to seek more security on international flights

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US to announce new enhanced aviation security measures -- sources
Author

29 June, 2017

The measures build on a ban of electronic devices larger than mobile phones imposed in March for USA -bound flights originating from 10 airports in the Middle East and North Africa.

"We can not play worldwide whack-a-mole with each new threat", DHS Secretary John Kelly said during a security conference on Wednesday.

According to Reuters, who spoke to officials in Europe and in the us, airlines have 21 days to implement new explosive screening measures, and 120 days to comply with other new security procedures.

Officials told Reuters they are concerned about adding new enhanced security measures to all of the roughly 280 airports that have direct flights to the United States rather than focus them on airports where threats are highest.

He said the goal is not only to spot potential threats in luggage, but also to try to spot suspicious travelers who show up at airports, and what he called "insider threats". Homeland security officials are reportedly set to announce that those airports will no longer be under the ban if they can meet the new security requirements.

The decision not to impose new restrictions on laptops is a boost to US airlines, which have anxious that an expansion of the ban to Europe or other locations could cause significant logistical problems and deter some travel.

The DHS officials said it would be "a mistake" that puts "passengers at risk" if they don't comply.

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Passengers on US -bound flights can expect to go through a more "extensive screening process" beginning as soon as this summer in some areas, according to senior officials. But he said the measures are not the last step to tighten security. DHS says countries now under the laptop ban can get off the list if the new measures are implemented all at their airports.

The government had considered expanding the laptop ban to include some European airports, though in recent public comments Kelly had suggested the government was looking at alternatives.

"Terrorists want to bring down aircraft", Kelly said during a conference in Washington, D.C. "The threat is very real", he said.

The new security measures announced Wednesday could lead to those bans being lifted, a senior DHS official said.

The U.S. sent technical experts to Brussels this week to discuss the security measures further.

He said new computer tomography or "CT" scanners being tested in Boston and Phoenix could help address long-term screening issues.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said at a June Senate hearing that lithium ion batteries on airplanes can be a problem and pose a fire risk.


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