International

Saudi airline says US will lift laptop ban by July 19

RIYADH: The Saudi national airline said 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 militants 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.

Washington said it would abolish the ban for companies that implemented new safety measures.

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.

Turkey’s Transport Minister Ahmet Arslan said Tuesday that the ban would no longer apply to US-bound flights from Turkey’s main international airport from July 5.

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