US to lift laptop ban on Saudia, Emirates hopeful

Updated 06 July 2017
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US to lift laptop ban on Saudia, Emirates hopeful

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia) will be able to fly passengers to the US with their laptops and other large personal electronic devices as cabin luggage by July 19, in a deal worked out between the Kingdom’s General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) and US transport security authorities.
The ban was imposed in March on 10 regional airports in the Middle East because of heightened fears of a terrorist attack, and led to a cutback in services on some routes between the Middle East and the US.
Saudia announced it has been “working in conjunction with the GACA to implement new directives from the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) concerning alternative security measures permitting large portable electronic devices in the cabin on flights to the USA. Saudia is currently working to meet all requirements outlined by the DHS with this regard. A further update will be issued once the matter is finalized.” The lifting of the ban would come into effect “on or before July 19,” it added.
Separately, Emirates Airline, the biggest carrier between the Gulf and the US, said that it too was hopeful the ban would be lifted soon. “Emirates is working hard in coordination with various aviation stakeholders and the local authorities to implement heightened security measures and protocols that meet the requirements of the US Department of Homeland Security’s new security guidelines for all US-bound flights.
“We hope that we will receive validation that all measures have been successfully implemented so that the electronics ban can be lifted as soon as possible for our US flights,” a statement added.
A spokesperson for Emirates could not give a date when passengers would be able to once more bring their own devices on board as cabin luggage.
Earlier this week, Etihad became the first of the “laptop ban” airlines to negotiate a suspension of the US measures, lifting the restrictions on flights on Sunday, partly because it has a pre-clearance facility at its home airport in Abu Dhabi to facilitate US immigration and customs procedures. The lifting of the ban will enable passengers to access personal laptops and other electronics during the 13-hour flight from the Arabian Gulf to the US East Coast.
Some critics had alleged the ban was politically motivated as a commercial measure against Etihad and Emirates, who are embroiled in a war of words with the US airline industry over alleged abuses of the “open skies” agreements between the UAE and the US. The new measures stipulated by the DHS’ Transportation Security Authority involve enhanced screening and security measures at airports in the Middle East for electronic equipment, passengers and explosives detection.
Saj Ahmad, aviation expert at Strategic Aero Research, said: “Lifting the ban makes sense. Given the risk of too many batteries/laptops in the cargo hold, which led to the UPS 747 crash in Dubai a few years back, this rule change would make it easier for crew to deal with a potential battery incident which would be visible in the cabin.
“And with that change, it is likely we’ll see a surge in US-bound traffic from the GCC so we could see the likes of Emirates adding new flights back to the US,” he added.
There is still a ban on laptops imposed by UK aviation authorities on flights from Saudi Arabia, but analysts expect that to also be removed soon: “If the US bans are removed then the UK would struggle to justify its position and is why I think it will be removed too,” Ahmad said.
The UK laptop ban never applied to travelers from the UAE.


King Salman receives Saudi Grand Mufti, princes, and military leaders

Updated 52 min 55 sec ago
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King Salman receives Saudi Grand Mufti, princes, and military leaders

  • King Salman extends Eid Al-Adha greetings to Saudi citizens, pilgrims and senior officials
  • King Salman arrived in Mina on Monday to supervise services being provided to pilgrims

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman on Tuesday said it was an honor to serve fellow Muslims undertaking this year’s Hajj pilgrimage.
The King made the comments as he and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman received the Kingdom’s princes, Grand Mufti, scholars, sheikhs, ministers, and military leaders participating in Hajj at the Royal Court in Mina Palace.
King Salman arrived in Mina, in the holy city of Makkah, on Monday, to supervise services being provided to almost 2.4 million pilgrims.
He greeted his visitors and all the Saudi citizens, as well as the pilgrims, on Eid Al-Adha.
“Dear brothers, Allah has honored our blessed country with the duty of serving pilgrims and providing them with the necessities to ensure they perform their rites safely and smoothly.
“Great lengths to serve them and ensure their comfort continues to be a source of pride for our country, since it was founded by the late King Abdul Aziz, and we will continue to perform this duty with the help and support of Allah.”
The King added: “My brothers and sons in the military, the pilgrims who have come to perform Hajj and Umrah, and the whole world, are seeing and experiencing your efforts in serving pilgrims, which is your duty and honor.
“These great sacrifices made by the Kingdom’s military sectors to defend the country and to protect its sanctities and capabilities are our pride.
“On this blessed day, we remember our martyrs and heroes, who sacrificed their lives for their religion and their country, and we ask Allah to bestow his mercy upon them and grant the wounded a fast recovery.
“We ask Allah to keep our country safe and secure, and to help us serve our religion and country.”
The gathering included senior guests from GCC countries and officials form the Saudi scouts officials who have come extend their greetings to the King on Eid Al-Adha,
Gen. Saeed bin Abdullah Al-Qahtani, Assistant Minister of Interior for Operations Affairs and General Supervisor of Public Security, congratulated King Salman, the commander-in-chief of all the armed forces, on Eid Al-Adha on behalf of those who had provided security services during Hajj.
“The Hajj security forces have begun carrying out their tasks, which are focused on maintaining the security and safety of pilgrims, enabling them to perform the Hajj rituals, and providing them with the humanitarian assistance they need,” he said.
Earlier, King Salman said that serving Hajj pilgrims was: “The greatest honor that God has honored our country.”
“I call upon him to complement the pilgrims and to perpetuate good and peace for our nation and the rest of the country,” the Kingdom’s ruler posted in Arabic on his Twitter account.
Government data show that 2.371 million pilgrims are participating in this year’s Hajj, with 1.758 million of them coming from abroad.