The Trump administration earlier this month said it was considering extending its cabin ban on laptops and other large consumer electronics to US-bound flights from Europe.
U.S. officials had previously said they were looking into extending to Europe a ban on electronic devices on flights originating from 10 airports in eight countries including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, over alleged concerns that bombs could be hidden in the devices.
There was an outcry in Europe when media reports started circulating that the U.S. was considering a ban on laptops, tablets and some phones in the cabin of all flights across the Atlantic over fears that it had intelligence that terrorists were considering concealing bombs in them.
The "high level" meeting had been requested by European Union officials because of concerns that information about a possible security threat had not been shared with Brussels, and that major travel disruption would ensue should America act unilaterally.
However on Wednesday, in a secure room in Brussels, officials from the US Department of Homeland Security and the European Union swapped intel on threats involving air travel.
The current restrictions affect 350 USA -bound flights per week from the Middle East and North Africa, the IATA estimates.
IATA estimates that banning electronics on flights from Europe to the U.S. would cost travelers more than $1 billion.
The U.S. official addressed one of the concerns being raised by airlines and aviation safety groups: the potential for raising the risks of fires by placing more volatile lithium-based batteries into the cargo holds of airliners.
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The proposed ban would cause serious disruptions on one of the world's most frequented air routes.
"If some flights' options allow certain electronics or provide substitutes", Surry said, "it may sway the traveler's decision about which airline to fly".
A WORK-AROUND: After the initial laptop ban on flights from the Middle East, some airlines devised a workaround.
Under the proposal, travelers with electronic devices larger than a cell phone would be required to carry them as checked luggage.
Shortly after the original ban was announced the Flight Safety Foundation, a leading aviation safety group, warned that it could create risks by shifting more lithium-battery powered devices to cargo holds. "The Atlantic [route] is a big source of revenues and profits both for US and European carriers".
With the USA pushing to expand the ban, and other groups suggesting it should be rolled back, we may be at a tipping point. His remarks came after the DHS sparked concern in Europe last week when it said it would soon decide on extending the ban to European airlines.
Alarmed at the proposal, which airline officials say is merely a matter of timing, European governments held talks with their US counterparts on Friday.
News editor Johanna Jainchill experienced the electronics ban on a flight from Dubai.
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