Saudi national airline expects end of laptop ban by July 19

Riyadh: The Saudi national airline said on Tuesday it expects the United States to lift a ban on laptops and tablets in the cabins of its US-bound flights from the kingdom by July 19.

Saudia, also known as Saudi Arabian Airlines, said the ban would be lifted “on or before July 19” and it was working with US authorities on “alternative security measures”.

Washington in March barred all electronic devices larger than a mobile phone in the cabins of direct flights to the US from 10 airports in Turkey, the Middle East and North Africa, only allowing them in hold luggage.

The ban was brought in after intelligence officials learned of efforts by jihadists from the Islamic State group to produce a bomb that could be hidden inside such devices.

For the same reason, Britain also banned similar-sized electronics from the cabins of direct flights from six countries.

Etihad Airways on Sunday became the first airline to benefit from the lifting of the ban, with flights from the airline’s base in the Emirati capital Abu Dhabi no longer affected.

The decision came after the airline implemented the new directives, a spokesman for the US department of homeland Security said.

Turkish transport minister Ahmet Arslan has also said that the US is set to lift the ban on US-bound flights from Turkey’s main international airport. 

Mr Arslan was quoted by state-run news agency Anadolu as saying the ban would be lifted on July 5 following a visit by a US delegation.

Its removal would come after Turkey began using highly sophisticated tomography devices for X-ray and ultrasound at the Ataturk airport.     

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