New security screening for passengers on US bound airlines

People march in London against US President Donald Trump's ban on travelers and immigrants from mainly Muslim countries entering the US. (AP file photo)
Updated 26 October 2017

New security screening for passengers on US bound airlines

DUBAI: New security screenings for all passengers on US-bound flights began on Thursday, with airlines worldwide questioning flyers about their trip and their luggage in the latest Trump administration decision affecting global travel.
However, confusion still remains about the new regulations, which come at the end of a 120-day period following the US lifting a ban on laptops in airplane cabins affecting 10 Mideast cities. The new regulations cover all the 2,100 flights from around the world entering the US on any given day.
Some airlines said they had received permission to delay implementing the new rules until January.
At Dubai International Airport, the world’s busiest for international travel, long-haul carrier Emirates began questioning passengers about their luggage, liquids they were carrying and where they were coming from. Passengers also had to have their carry-on bags searched, along with their electronics.
Emirates declined to discuss the new procedures in detail on Thursday. On Wednesday, it said it would conduct “passenger pre-screening interviews” for those traveling on US-bound flights in concert with other checks on electronics.
Elsewhere, things did not appear to be going so smoothly. In China, an official in the Xiamen Airlines press office, who would only give his surname as Qiu, said that the airlines received a “demand” about the new US regulations and planned “to take some security measures, including security safety interviews from today on.”
“We’re not going to interview all passengers, but focus on those with a certain degree of risk when checking the passengers’ documents on the ground,” he said, without elaborating.
An official with the Eastern Airlines publicity department said that she saw media reports about security safety interviews but did not have immediate details on what her company was doing. An official at the Beijing Airport press center would only say: “We always strictly follow relevant regulations of the Civil Aviation Administration when conducting security checks.” Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity under regulations.
At Air China, the country’s flag carrier, an official who only gave his surname, Zhang, said it would comply.
“We will meet the demands from the US side, but as for the detailed measures (we will take), it is inconvenient for us to release,” he said.
South Korea’s Transport Ministry said that the US agreed to delay implementing the new screening for the country’s two biggest carriers, Korean Air Lines Co. and Asiana Airlines Inc., until next year on condition they deploy staff at boarding gates to monitor travelers.
Royal Jordanian, based in Amman, also has said it would introduce the new procedures in mid-January.
Other airlines with US-bound flights at Seoul’s Incheon International Airport brought in as many as seven extra staff Thursday to question passengers under the new rules but there were no major delays, airport spokesman Lee Jung-hoon said.
Singapore Airlines passengers may be required to “undergo enhanced security measures” including inspection of personal electronic devices “as well as security questioning during check-in and boarding,” the carrier said on its website.
Other carriers who announced the new regulations on Wednesday included Air France, Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd., the airlines of Germany’s Lufthansa Group and EgyptAir.
In Hong Kong, passengers described some of the questions they were asked.
“They asked me if I packed my own bag, where I packed it from, where I came from, they looked at my itinerary, verify where I was, who I was, from where I came from,” said Fran Young, who was traveling to Los Angeles.
Some showed displeasure.
“It’s a little inconvenient, I kind of just want to get my printed ticket and then just go inside,” passenger Gavin Lai said. “I don’t want to wait on people to interview me like that. So it’s a little annoying.”
US carriers also will be affected by the new rules. Delta Air Lines said it was telling passengers traveling to the US to arrive at the airport at least three hours before their flight and allow extra time to get through security. United declined to comment, while American did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In March, US officials introduced the laptop ban in the cabins of some Mideast airlines over concerns Daesh fighters and other extremists could hide bombs inside of them. The ban was lifted after those airlines began using devices like CT scanners to examine electronics before passengers boarded planes heading to the US Some also increasingly swab passengers’ hands to check for explosive residue.
The laptop ban as well as travel bans affecting predominantly Muslim countries have hurt Mideast airlines. Emirates, the region’s biggest, said it slashed 20 percent of its flights to the US in the wake of the restrictions.


Pakistani pilot who steered first Emirates flight remembers birth of UAE airline

Updated 4 min 44 sec ago

Pakistani pilot who steered first Emirates flight remembers birth of UAE airline

  • The historic flight took off from Dubai to Karachi on Oct. 25, 1985
  • Carrier’s success lies in leadership that prioritizes competence, retired captain says

ISLAMABAD: Thirty-five years after he steered the first Emirates flight, retired Capt. Fazal Ghani Mian says the success of the UAE flag carrier was and remains its competence and merit.

The first Emirates flight, EK600, took off from Dubai to Karachi on Oct. 25, 1985.

Recalling the airline’s birth and having observed its operations for more than three decades, the former chief pilot of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), who flew the Emirates Airbus A300 on its maiden trip, says the UAE flag carrier’s success lies in leadership that prioritizes competence.

“Emirates selects people on merit and they give them responsibility with authority,” he told Arab News in an interview this week. “No outside interference in their job. I am proud that I was a part of competent people who played a role in building Emirates airline from scratch.”

His involvement with Emirates was a result of PIA’s contract with Dubai to provide pilots, engineers and two aircraft to help establish the UAE airline.

“I came to Dubai on Oct. 1, 1985 and met Emirates Airline managing director Maurice Flanagan and their teams,” Mian said. “We discussed the tasks ahead related to the arrival of two aircraft to lay the foundation of the Emirates airline.”

Retired Capt. Fazal Ghani Mian speaks to Arab News in Islamabad on Oct. 28. (AN photo)

“We used to discuss the progress every day and prepare reports, and if there was any problem we found we used to help each other solve it.

“I am grateful to the great leadership of Sheikh Ahmed who was conducting these meetings,” he said, referring to Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum, the president of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority and founder of the Emirates Group.

The two aircraft were painted in Emirates colors at a PIA hangar in Karachi, all in secrecy. They were then flown to Dubai.

“On Oct. 18, 1985 a team of engineers, along with two aircraft, arrived at Dubai airport with the Emirates insignia. The aircraft were kept in a hangar at the far corner of the airport away from the public eye,” Mian said.

On Oct. 23, 1985, the Pakistani-Emirati team had to operate five special VIP flights over Dubai.

“On Oct. 22, we received some uniforms very late at night,” the former captain said. “The laundry was closed but a young man working in the hotel took the uniforms and pressed them at his residence and brought it back around midnight.”

“I was praying that nothing bad would happen,” Mian said. “The first Airbus flight was around 11 o’clock and Sheikh Mohammed (bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai) and other royal dignitaries were sitting on the aircraft. We flew over Dubai for 45 minutes and we were escorted by Dubai air force fighter pilots.”

Two days later the UAE flag carrier took off on its first official flight.

“On Oct. 25, we operated the first official flight to Karachi with top royal dignitaries of UAE and employees of Emirates airline on board,” Mian said.

The smooth beginning came with a dream landing.

“Landing was so smooth that nobody realized the aircraft had landed,” Mian said. “This was the beginning of Emirates

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