Abu Dhabi becomes first airport to gain laptop ban reprieve
Published: 2 July 2017 - 7:42 p.m.
By: Neil Halligan
US Department of Homeland Security has lifted the electronic devices ban on all flights between Abu Dhabi and the United States, Etihad Airways has announced. The move follows “the successful validation of security measures at the US Pre-clearance facility at Abu Dhabi airport earlier today”, the airline said. “Effective immediately, the removal of the restrictions allows passengers flying to the US to carry all laptops, tablets, and other electronic devices onto the aircraft, subject to enhanced security measures,” Etihad said in a media statement. “We would like to thank our guests for their understanding and loyalty while the ban was in place.” The US government last week imposed broad new demands for increased airport security on flights to America from other countries in an attempt to combat the threat of terrorists hiding bombs in laptops. The measures by the Department of Homeland Security represent one of the most sweeping security upgrades in the past decade but stopped short of a threatened ban on large electronics in aircraft cabins. It will apply to an average of 325,000 passengers a day flying to the US from 280 airports in 105 countries. The measures will include enhanced screening of electronic devices, more thorough vetting of passengers, increased use of bomb-sniffing dogs and measures to mitigate the potential threat posed by insider attacks, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said. The US Immigration and Customs at the US Pre-clearance facility in Terminal 3 at Abu Dhabi International Airport was a significant factor in the decision, according to a spokesperson for the airline. The pre-clearance facility is the only one of its kind in the Middle East and it means that once passengers land in the United States from Abu Dhabi, they arrive as domestic passengers, with no requirement to queue for immigration and custom checks again. Etihad Airways currently operates 45 flights a week between Abu Dhabi and six cities across the United States, including double daily to New York, daily to Washington, Chicago, Dallas and Los Angeles, and three-times-per-week to San Francisco. The US is one of Etihad Airways’ largest markets, with 203,515 passengers flying to the US from Abu Dhabi between 1 January and 30 April 2017. This was up by 13,157 passengers for the same period in 2016.